HIV Cases On the Rise in Karbi Anglong

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An increasing number of HIV cases have become a cause of concern for the Health department and its allied agencies in Karbi Anglong.

According to a study conducted by ‘HIV Prevention and Social Implement for New Generation’ a local NGO and ‘Economic Development Society,’ a Guwahati based NGO in Diphu and Bokajan has come up with alarming figures. Both NGOs, after conducting a field study have prepared a comparative statement with 2008 as the base year.

According to records collected by the NGOs, in 2008, the number of AIDS patients in Bokajan subdivision of Karbi Anglong district was 5 but in 2009 it increased up to 19; keeping the trend up, in 2010 the number went up to 22; in 2011 total number increased to 25 persons, in 2012 another 14 persons were detected with the deadly disease.

In 2013 another 6 persons increased the tally and in 2014 fresh cases of HIV positive were detected among 11 persons taking the total numbers of AIDS patent in Bokajan subdivision up to 102.

The situation in Diphu subdivision is not so alarming in comparison to Bokajan. From the available records in 2007, only one case of HIV positive was detected but within one year the figure amplified. In 2008 a total 18 persons with the deadly disease came forward for treatment, the count reached up to 28 in 2009. Until 31st March 2010, a total of 50 HIV positive patients are undergoing treatment.

According to the NGO study which could not present any recent data about Diphu, a total of 152 persons are living with the fatal syndrome in Karbi Anglong.

According to a senior medical officer of the district, the reason behind the increase of HIV positive cases in Bokajan is its close proximity with certain areas of Nagaland where unhygienic and unscientific flesh trade takes place. Similar kinds of prostitution are also going on in the Lahorijan locality of Bokajan, positioned at the interstate border where thousands of goods carrying vehicles bound for various destinations of Nagaland and Manipur state halt for food and a night rest.

The illegal flesh trade has increased in Lahorijan where apart from the truck drivers coming from various places of India and some with the disease have sexual intercourse with the girls involved in prostitution. A number of girls with HIV positive are also involved in the flesh trade. Large numbers of local youth across the district are regular callers to these brothels from where they can share the problem. Efficient motivation and counselling at private level may help to improve the situation along with other regular preventive measures, according to some members of NGOs who are actively working to improve the situation.

Sushanta Roy is a journalist in Assam, India, who photographs and writes about the people, animals and flora of Assam, and the things that affect them.