GUWAHATI: World AIDS Day is observed on the first day of December every year since 1988 to spread awareness about this disease and encourage everyone to be safe from the virus that has claimed millions of lives worldwide.
The theme for this year is World AIDS Day is 'Equalize' and aims to end the stigma related to this illness. It is a call to action for all leaders and citizens across the globe to solve the problems that have created an unequal distribution of necessary resources and medications for the problem.
Particular interest has been given to the children and key populations which include specific communities with high chances of exposure to HIV.
Assam is also facing a very bad situation in terms of AIDS. Starting with 79 positive cases in the 2002-03 session, the number reached 2269 in the current session. According to official reports, 81.6 % of this number was propagated through sexual interactions of heterosexual nature, 5.5 % from infected needles, 4.7 % from parents to children and 4.6% from homosexual interactions.
In order to combat this problem, the state is working on a two-pronged approach. On one hand, they are working to spread awareness about the illness and the second is by providing proper healthcare and treatment to the positive cases.
451 Integrated Counselling & Testing Centres are now operated to detect this disease across the state. They also provide proper counselling regarding lifestyle and medication to those who are found positive. Anti Retroviral Therapy Centers provide the necessary medical support to people suffering from AIDS and 9 such centres are located in hospitals and 6 more in jails across the state.
Awareness about HIV AIDS is provided via the 239 Red Ribbon Clubs across colleges and universities of the state. An Adolescence Education Programme is also in place for the students belonging to classes 9 to 11 in 500 schools in Assam.
29 Suraksha Clinics have been set up across different hospitals to treat Sexually Transmitted Infections and Reproductive Tract Infections and provide necessary interventions. Opioid Substitution Therapy is in place in six hospitals in the state to help people with opioid dependency to shift from intravenous methods to oral ones.