AIDS - A dormant volcano

AIDS - A dormant volcano

The acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) is spread by HIV the human immuno deficiency. This virus slowly attacks the immune system of the body and soon a person loses his capacity to fight any disease. There are only three ways in which the disease can spread—through sexual contact, infected needles and infected blood. In addition to this hospital wastes have been identified as potential cause for the spread of AIDS in India. As a matter of fact AIDS is basically a sexually transmitted disease (STD).

According to experts India's position is quite grim. If it is left unchecked it could bring about social and economic devastation in the country. Six years after the first case of AIDS was detected in India (1986), WHO estimated that in India around five lakh people are infected with virus. The highest incidence of HIV infection has been reported from Maharashtra. The survey conducted by National AIDS control programme reveals that Manipur heads a list in north east states.

India will have the largest number of people infected by HIV within a very short period if adequate precautions are not taken. Every fifth person carrying sexually transmitted disease in the world is an Indian. The largest number of HIV positive cases in India are in the 20-40 age group, the most productive period in human life cycle.

The National AIDS control organization formed in 1993 is the leading organisations for the implementation of National AIDS prevention & control programme. It will deal with all the aspects of the problem from supervision to education on the subject.

There is a lot of misinformation on the subject in the public because, of which AIDS victims suffer social humiliation. This kind of discrimination is not going to help the infected individual. He will prefer to die untreated rather than reveal his identity before undergoing testing and treatment. Refusal to accept HIV cases as a matter of policy for hospitals is discriminatory. It is against the spirit of article 14 of the coristitution. To refuse treatment to AIDS patients is irrational and inhuman. Therefore, ignorance and lack of discrimination are great hurdles to tackle the problems sanely.

As a matter of fact the only cure to AIDS is prevention. Globally the number of persons infected with HIV have multiplied a hundred times over in less than a decade and estimated 10-12 million men, women and children have been infected with HIV. Within a very short time the death toll is expected to be at least 4 lakh a year. In such a situation at least hundred million people are expected to have been infected by HIV.

Women have now been recognized as one of the major groups requiring a help. 30% - 50 % of infected population has been found to be among women. In many countries specially in South-Asia, women have little control over sex, when and how they have it. A woman infected with HIV is bound to pass on the infection to her child.

It is tragic that such a dreaded disease requires huge expenditure for the treatment of the patients. The African experience has shown that it costs about rupees 12 thousand per person per year. Aerosolized Pentomidine (AZT), the only drug known to prolong life by about 36 months, has to be imported and costs rupee 3 lakh a year per patient. If meanwhile the patient develops blindness, an additional rupee 6.9 lakh per year needs to be added more to cost of the treatment. The poor are more prone to it rather than those who are economically better off. The projected world wide spending on AIDS amounts to epic proportions. This would eat up the entire health budgets of the most third world countries. The poor section of the society has made it imperative on the part of the Govt, to provide facilities for treatment to the poor. Right now, the best; cure is prevention and spread of education among the masses. The more awareness among the people, the less incidence of the fatal disease.