Over the past eight years, 44 HIV positive infected patients between 23 to 40 years old have been reported in Ladakh. HIV transmission continues to rise in Ladakh and this year two HIV positive cases are reported.
Ladakh, with a population of about 2.7 Lakh has a relatively high HIV prevalence rate.
Till August 2016, there were an estimated 5 deaths of people with diagnosed HIV infection.
In the year 2008, J&K State AIDS prevention and Control Society formed Integrated Counseling & Testing Center (ICTC) at SNM hospital, Leh. The Centre conducts HIV diagnostic tests for people of all age and provides basic knowledge on the genres of HIV transmission and also it further link people with other HIV prevention, care and free medical treatment services.
Stanzin Dolma Councilor ICTC (LAC) Leh said, “There is a decrease in the case in last three years, but it doesn’t mean that there is an actual decrease in the graph, there could be possible of fewer tests were performed in past three years.”
However, the HIV epidemic in Ladakh is concentrated, the main mode of transmission is predominantly by sexual contact and through drug injections.
She further added, “Although women are more vulnerable and is at high risk of HIV infection, it is a miracle to say that male HIV rate is higher in Ladakh.”
A total of 29 cases are reported among the male which is estimated 65.90% of HIV infections and 15 cases among female with an estimated of 34.10% HIV infections.
Reportedly in 2012, the highest number of HIV positive was 12 cases, followed by 10 cases registered in 2011. The graph also shows that the rate of HIV cases was decreased in last three years.
As per the graph, a total of 9 cases of Hepatitis B and HIV co-infected are shown. A total number of 15 patients are on Antiretroviral Therapy (ART) as the therapy do not destroy or cure the virus, however, it prevents the growth of the virus, thus , ART helps people with HIV live longer, healthier lives. There is 1 case pre- ART that is tested positive for HIV but not yet eligible for treatment.
Stanzin further suggested that the disease brings people to premature death but there are steps that we can prevent and reduce transmission of AIDS in society by educating people and by spreading awareness.
She further appealed people to share the knowledge about this incurable disease, as the adolescent stage is very sensitive and vulnerable. Teenagers and adolescents must know how to evade HIV infection before they become sexually active.
At the same time, there is a huge responsibility of parents to share and ensure their children understand how to avoid HIV infection. No matter what the reasons are, having the HIV test done is a good idea for oneself as well as for the others. The test just ensures whether you have it or not and the detail report of the patient are kept confidential.