The number of people infected with AIDS in Assam has come down by eight per cent in two years to 19,545 on account of various initiatives by a state agency to control the disease, an official said on Tuesday.
As per India’s HIV Estimation 2019 report, the northeastern state had 21,223 people living with HIV, Assam State AIDS Control Society (ASACS) Assistant Director Rajib Sarma said.
Sarma stated that the estimated adult HIV prevalence rate of 0.09 per cent in Assam is lower than the national prevalence rate at 0.22 per cent.
Assam is highly vulnerable for HIV/AIDS transmission as it is the gateway to other northeastern states and is surrounded by the three highly prevalence states of Mizoram (2.32 per cent), Nagaland (1.45 per cent) and Manipur (1.18 per cent), he added.
The ASACS took various steps for the prevention and treatment of HIV in order to ensure that the state remains in the low prevalence category, Sarma stated.
“Given the aforesaid strategy and services, ASACS has been able to identify 19,545 HIV positive cases at present with Kamrup Metropolitan district recording the maximum number of infections at 6,596,” he added.
Some other districts having a high number of infections with AIDS are Cachar (4,567), Dibrugarh(1,229), Nagaon (773), Karimganj (729), Jorhat (641) and Golaghat (509), the official said.
Among the detected cases, 15,624 persons were registered in Anti Retroviral Therapy (ART) Centres of whom 7,992 patients are alive, he said.
In a statement, the ASACS said that as part of the prevention strategy, it has started index testing of HIV positive persons for contact tracing of the patients so that early detection of cases can be done to reduce further spread of the infection.
“ASACS has also started interventions in close settings, like prisons, considering that there might be people who had high-risk behaviour when they were outside the prison and may have been infected with HIV,” it added.
Assam is the first state in the country to initiate HIV intervention amongst prison inmates in 2017 as a result of which it has been able to decrease the annual new rate of infection by 22.7 per cent since 2010, the statement said.
ASACS has also expanded its service facilities to prevent new infection through the Targeted Intervention (TI) projects, HIV counselling and testing through Integrated Counselling & Testing Centres ( ICTC), and treatment through the ART Centres.
Awareness campaigns through TV, radio, newspapers, theatre, puppetry, social media platforms and other formats have also been undertaken.