HIV transmission via unsafe sex a big challenge, shows state data

  • | Friday | 1st December, 2023

Pune: HIV spread due to unprotected sexual activities remains to be a major challenge in Maharashtra as the number of cases due to unsafe blood transfusion or vertical transmission is on the decline, state officials said on Thursday.Vertical transmission of HIV refers to passing on the infection from an HIV-positive mother to the child.Data available with the Maharashtra State AIDS Control Society (MSACS) showed that HIV sero positivity through unsafe blood transfusion stood at 0.17% in 2015-16, which dropped to 0.07% in the period starting April 2022 and ending October 2023.Similarly, incidence of mother-to-child transmission of HIV stood at 1,219 in 2015, which came down to 730 in 2023-24 (till Oct), the data showed.However, the number of sexually transmitted HIV cases continues to pose a challenge. Over 1 lakh such cases were found in 2018. During the April-October period this year, 59,000 such cases have already been recorded in the state, the data showed.Roshni Kadam, deputy director, MSACS, said, Sex being a taboo among general public poses a huge challenge in eliminating HIV transmission through unsafe sexual activities. Though the rise in such cases could partially be attributed to increased testing, there is no denying that unsafe sex remains to be a hurdle in curbing HIV transmission. She said the increased testing was beneficial as it paved way for timely diagnosis and treatment. December 1 is marked as the World AIDS Day. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), there are around 39 million people living with HIV/AIDS in the world. The National AIDS Control Organization (NACO)s report stated that about 24 lakh HIV-infected patients were in the country at the end of April 2023. Of these, 4.19 lakh patients were in Maharashtra.Dr Megha Mamulwar, nodal communication officer at the National AIDS Research Institute, said, There is not much time left as we are heading towards 2030 which is the target year to eliminate AIDS as a public health threat.Dr Sachin Melinkeri, consultant in HIV medicine at KEM Hospital, said, The mode of HIV transmission through sexually transmitted diseases continues to be a hurdle in fight against HIV/AIDS. A grim reminder of this challenge is reflected in our existing health infrastructures under-preparedness.He said sexual education, destigmatization efforts, intensified medical intervention strategies were key to eliminating HIV/AIDS. The Integrated Counselling and Testing Centres (ICTC) tested 23.4 lakh samples in the state this year so far and found 8,366 HIV-positive.

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