World AIDS Day: 21 Lakh people live with HIV, 8,8000 patients newly infected

NEW DELHI: According to the WHO data report, in India, around 21 lakh people are estimated to have been living with HIV, of which 88,000 patients have been newly infected in 2017. Around 56 per cent of them are estimated to be covered with antiretroviral therapy (ART).

On the occasion of World AIDS Day, Amruta Soni, a transgender diagnosed with HIV, who works for HIV-affected sex workers and other patients in four Indian states, said that the government should think of mapping ART centres, across states, again.

Soni, who will be talking about the stigma and social issues at City’s Centre for Extra Mural Studies, said, “The governments in states of Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh should re-map ART centers for patients from afar. There are many patients in rural as well as urban areas, who have to travel long distances for tratment at the ART centres. The authority should also check on the availability of stock of medicines in these ART centres. Some of the rural ART centre have been running at a shortage of medicines.”

According to her, while there is an increase in awareness level, there are many patients who are discriminated socially. “Discrimination happens mainly because there is a lack of acceptance in the society. Cases in rural areas do not come into the open because, socially, people cannot accept the infected,” she added.

Soni further said, “Increase in awareness is an important part but in rural areas, patients suffer from discrimination. Everyone is not willing to accept these people. Mental health should be taken into consideration. Counselling sessions should be taken up by the community organization centres to help patients with change in behavioural patterns. When patients have to put up with social discrimination, they tend to reveal changes in their behaviour. (DNA)