Sunday, September 20, 2009

AIDS tally in Darjeeling & Sikkim shoots above 350

DARJEELING & GANGTOK, September 19: While Sikkim is grappling with a rising number of HIV/AIDS persons, the neighouring hill region of Darjeeling is also witnessing a surge in the number of persons infected with the dreaded disease.

Latest official figures point out that around 279 persons in Darjeeling hilly region have been infected with HIV/AIDS disease, a bitter offshoot of a disintegrating society here.

Informed people are at a loss as how to stem the rot and convince the people of rural areas are still rooted to traditional beliefs and taboos. Despite such odds, NGOs here like Sankar Foundation are working to spread awareness among the people besides providing for the medical care of the infected persons.

The Sankar Foundation has been sensitizing the people from rural areas with public awareness programmes besides hosting training camps for persons interested to work in this field. A similar training camp of five days concluded today here with focus on creating a strong awareness among the people about the dreaded diseases.

During the training, the participants were trained how to provide support and to sensitize the infected persons on their rights, said the NGO secretary Sankar Mani Rai.

Mr. Rai said that 6,500 persons have done their blood tests till now at Darjeeling under Integrated Counseling Testing Centre from 2002.

Meanwhile, according a report, Latest figures available with the Sikkim State AIDS Control Society (SSACS) mentions that a total of 60 persons in the state have been identified as HIV positive ~ an increase of six from the figures given in September by an NGO.

The society had conducted 9,200 tests so far in East and South districts and figures are expected to increase with more results yet to come from other districts. Out of 11 full blown AIDS cases, four have already died.

In another disturbing fact, it appears that the tentacles of HIV disease has now infiltrated the 15-19 age group in Sikkim with 10 positive cases being reported from the above age group. Two minors have also been affected with HIV. From the 60 HIV positive persons, 17 were female. Unsafe sex is the dominant factor for spread of the disease.Figures also point out that East district, the most populated region of the state tops the list with 54 HIV positive cases. Out of it, Gangtok has 33 cases.

“There are also 8 army personal who army cantonment who had been detected with HIV-AIDS”