Ganjam tops state in HIV/AIDS cases in Odisha (Source: OrissaPost)

World AIDS Day Ganjam tops state in HIV/AIDS cases in Odisha (Source: OrissaPost)

Berhampur: Even as Ganjam district continues to maintain the dubious distinction of having the maximum number of AIDS cases in the state since 2001, the situation still fails to draw the attention of the government to battle the menace, a report said. 
According to official records, 90 per cent people of Ganjam work in other states and this is a major factor for rising HIV positive cases. Still over 11,000 victims are yet to be identified due to the shortage of required number of staff which is needed to complete the exercise, it was learnt.
 A joint assessment of NACO and OSACS reveals that of 71,000 AIDS-affected persons in the state, Ganjam alone accounts for about 25,000 which is 35 per cent of the total victims. However, only 14,036 persons have been detected so far while nearly 11,000 are yet to be traced, district AIDS cell sources said. There are 49 integrated councelling and testing centres (ICTCs) in the CHCs of 22 blocks of the district to diagnose HIV positive cases but 11 of them have no laboratory technicians to conduct tests. Similarly, Chikiti and Kabisuryanagar centres have no counsellors to speak to the victims. The kind of awareness required to curb the menace and identify new cases in the district has been severely hit due to staff crunch.
However, officials claim that the number of cases has been dipping in the district since 2009 due to awareness launched at government level. While 1,602 HIV positive cases were detected in 2009, it has come down to 700 this year, they said. 
HIV test of pregnant women has also been made mandatory in the district, they added. So far 2,330 persons succumbed to the dreaded AIDS, it was learnt.
When contacted, Hemant Das, an official of district AIDS cell, said two anti-retrovial therapy (ART) centres – one at MKCG Medical College and Hospital in Berhampur and the other at Bhanjanagar sub-divisional hospital – have been functioning to provide free medicines to the affected persons.
Though many people migrate to cities like Surat, Chennai, Mumbai and Delhi in search of jobs, they are now much alert than their predecessors, Das added