Harm-reduction strategies proving successful
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03 October 2010
By Aarti Dhar
Manipur is the only State in India to have a policy on harm reduction to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS, and the strategy seems to be yielding positive results.
According to the Annual Report of the Manipur State AIDS Control Society for 2008–2009, the prevalence rate of HIV infection among injecting drug–users has shown a decrease from 76.9 per cent in 1997 to 17.9 per cent in 2007.
Today, HIV/AIDS has become a household word in Manipur, with the knowledge of HIV/AIDS among adults, women and men being nearly universal (99 per cent) as per the National Family Health Survey–111 (2205–2006).
Earlier, the main route of HIV transmission was sharing of injecting equipment among the injecting drug users. However, the epidemic has penetrated through sexual activities too.
Manipur is one of the high prevalence States in India with HIV prevalence–rate among pregnant women being 1.3 per cent. More and more interior and hill areas are yet to be covered.
The State has the highest prevalence of HIV among the six high prevalence states of Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Manipur and Nagaland. The prevalence is four times higher, as against the national prevalence of 0.28 per cent. The cumulative reported number of HIV positives in Manipur until March 2009 was 31,972 while full blown AIDS (patients) is 4,363 and the number of recorded deaths due to AIDS is 625.