Saturday, May 13, 2006

AID/HIV in India

One of my favourite magzines COLORS is running an article on the situation of AIDS/HIV around the world. I remember watching a documentry on AIDS way back in 1994 when it had started taking on monsterous proportions, and its a shame that the public awareness about the virus still lags by so many years. Currently about 0.9% of the adult Indian population is infected, with the estimated numbers close to 5.21 million. About 0.88% of the expectant mothers carry the infection and most of them are unaware of their condition. These numbers are mostly speculative as most of the cases go unreported, because of the social stigma attached with the HI virus and also because of the lack of skilled doctors. Its is only recently that the Medical Council has started training doctors to detect and handle patients. The following chart shows the increase in infection over the last couple of years.

The spread of this epidemic is second only to some African nations and even a 0.1% increase would result in millions of people getting affected. Today India stands at a critical point where if adequate measures are not taken would result in an uncontrolable outbreak of this disease. There are several organization like the Gates Foundation, NACO, GAP that are doing commendable work in these areas though they are looking mostly at the grassroot levels. Most the of the people who are infected with AIDS are truck drivers, sex workers( ~9%) and about 11% drug users. But it has started spreading into the common population. In the earlier days of AIDS everyone in the US thought that the virus was something restricted to the gay communities until they found themselves in their midst. It is not long before the it becomes a pandamic especially because the so called "normal" citizens of this country choose to be unaware of it. And these are the reasons I believe it would happen:

1. The sorry state of affairs of the Indian medical system. Walk into one of the goverment hospitals, like AIMS, Safdarjung or one in your local neighbourhood and you'll see the filth and the total lack of consideration for patients. The situations in private hospitals is even worse where there is no accountability. This is the country where the patient consider the doctors second only to God, and sadly most of the new doctors abuse this trust. Almost 30% of the disposable needles are reused. And there are very few legislations or government agencies in place to prevent such a gross abuse of the Hippocratic oath. There should be effective mechanisms in place that monitors the quality of medical facilities and the doctors.

2. India stands are a crossroad where its is being bombared with ideas from all over the world. Young kids are coming out of their shells and experimenting with their bodies. Its one thing to raise a hue and cry about the Indian culture going down the drain and quite another to acutally do something that makes a difference. These growing up children should be educated about themselves, about sex because its very natural that they would experience attraction towards the opposite sex. The least that can be done is make them more aware of the pitfalls, the hygiene. Make them more aware about STDs, AIDS, contraceptives... And all the grown ups like to do is turn a blind eye to this problem, like it does not exist.

And only once people start accepting that a menace like AIDS exists amongst them can they accept people who suffer with this dreaded disease and accept them as a part of the society.

The first step towards solving any problem is acknowledging that the problem exists.


Anonymous said...

Hi Vibs,
Good post. One thing though, I think the government has woken up to the problem of AIDS, if Doordarshan's line of programmes are an indication. If you ever watch DD News for some time, you won't miss out on the public broadcasts.


girl said...

Good Effort by the post.

Vibhanshu Abhishek 3.1 said...

Sups: Finally someone is visible ;) Hmmm I need to see DD sometimes, but then again how many people watch DD?

Girl: Thanks. Why dont u X-post ;)

Anonymous said...

but then again how many people watch DD

Actually even with cable TV in rural areas now a days, DDs viewership is humongous.

As an example of their effort, DD National has a programme called "Jasoos Vijay" :) in which they always try to get the message of AIDS/condoms in every episode through the hero. The programme is partly funded by the BBC.

Another nice programme I've seen recently is "Haath se haath milaa". They have a novel concept. They meet with youths from various cities/towns and also people with AIDS who have decided to spread social awareness about AIDS. These youths get to meet a filmstar of their choice.

e.g. I got to know Shilpa Shetty is into AIDS activism ever since she acted in "Phir Milenge". :)