6,158 Hiv-positive patients registered with ART centers in J&K

Being a tourist destination, UT at greater risk of infection, comprehensive package of Care, support, treatment being provided to patients:- Official

Jahangeer Ganaie

Srinagar, Aug 19(KNO): The first HIV positive case in Kashmir was detected in 1986 when a Kashmiri businessman who had returned from Germany was tested positive for the infection and since then 6,158 HIV positive patient have registered with ART facilities in J&K.

An official told the news agency—Kashmir News Observer (KNO) that till since 1986 till date 6,158 patients have been registered with three ART Centres under J&K AIDS control society and among them 1,400 HIV-positive patients have died till June 2023 while 3,478 patients are living on Anti-Retroviral Therapy (ART). He said 547 patients have left follow-up.

He said that till date 5,060 cases of HIV have been reported at GMC Jammu and among them, 1,228 have died, 503 have left follow-up and 2718 are living on ART.

Similarly, in SKIMS Srinagar, the number of patients registered in HIV care till June 2023 is 746 while 148 have died, 32 have left follow-up and 448 are living on ART, he added.

In ART Kathua, the number of patients registered in HIV care is 352 while 24 have died, 12 have left follow-up and 312 are living on ART.

The officials said that due to social stigma, most people aren’t coming forward for HIV tests and over the years, the number of patients infected has shown a rising trend.

Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS) is a chronic, potentially life-threatening condition caused by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). By damaging your immune system, HIV interferes with your body’s ability to fight infection and disease.

HIV is a sexually transmitted infection (STI). It can also be spread by contact with infected blood or from mother to child during pregnancy, childbirth or breast-feeding, multi-person usage of needles. Without medication, it may take years before HIV weakens your immune system to the point that you have AIDS.

Officials said that a person suffering from AIDS is “unfortunately” often regarded as a stigma in society and such people become victims of ostracism, rejection and discrimination.

They said that J&K is at a greater risk of HIV AIDS because of being a tourist destination.

Most of the patients who have tested positive for HIV AIDS in J&K have contracted the disease from outside the UT.

“Drug addicts are at a higher risk of contracting HIV/AIDS and if they are married or are sexually active, they transmit this to their partners as well,” they said.

Officials said that under National AIDS control Program, patients vare being given proper care, support and treatment and various services delivery points like CoE, ART Centre, ART Plus centres, LAC, LAC Plus and CCC have been established and are being expanded in a need based manner, officials said .

They added that the main objective of Anti-retroviral Therapy (ART) Centre is to provide comprehensive package of Care-support and Treatment services to persons living with HIV/AIDS(PLHIV).

The specific objectives of an ART centre are to register and provide Care, Support and Treatment services to all PLHIV and monitor patients in HIV care (Pre-ART) regularly, identify eligible PLHIV requiring ART and initiate them or ART in a timely manner as per the NACO guidelines, provide ARV & OI drugs to eligible PLHIV and provide treatment adherence and counseling services before and during treatment to ensure high levels of drugs adherence.

The other objectives of ART are to counsel and educate PLHIV, caregiver, guardians and family members on nutritional requirements, hygiene, positive living and also on measures to prevent further transmission of infection, refer patients requiring specialized services (including admission) to other departments/higher facilities/CoE, provide comprehensive package of services including condom and prevention education with a view towards ”Positive Prevention” and ultimately integrating HIV care into general health system for long term sustainability.

Jahangeer Ganaie

Jahangeer Ganaie is a Pulwama based journalist, currently south head with News agency KNO and owner of The Kashmir Scroll

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