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Interventions help check spread of HIV

Bageshree S.

Karnataka has been able to maintain high levels of treatment adherence


Karnataka is the only State to have a government ART centre in every district

The high levels of HIV-TB co-infection in north Karnataka are a cause for concern


Bangalore: Karnataka is one of the States in India with a high HIV prevalence, with an estimated 2.75 lakh people currently living with the virus. But there is heartening news on the eve of World AIDS Day: targeted prevention interventions have played a significant role in controlling the spread of the virus and mitigating its impact.

Studies

A mathematical modelling projection based on studies done in two districts by the Karnataka Health Promotion Trust (KHPT), established by the Karnataka State AIDS Prevention Society (KSAPS) and University of Manitoba (UM), shows that the situation would have been far worse but for the interventions that have been scaled up effectively since 2003.

HIV sentinel surveillance among ante-natal clinic (ANC) populations in 27 districts over the years shows that the HIV prevalence has come down from 1.6 per cent in 2003 to 0.86 in 2007-08.

In sheer numbers, this reduction in prevalence would reduce the number of HIV-positive newborns by over 2,000 every year. “This is much greater than the most optimistic estimates from Prevention of Parent to Child Transmission of HIV (PPTCT) programmes,” says Dr. Stephen Moses, Project Director of the Sankalp/Corridors Project (Avahan India-AIDS initiative) implemented by the KHPT. Karnataka is the only State to have a government Anti-Retroviral Therapy (ART) centre in every district.

Statistics show that Karnataka has been able to maintain high levels of treatment adherence. “As a result of good coordination at the district level, our ‘lost to follow up’ among patients on ART is about 3.2 per cent, while the national average is around 7 per cent,” says Dr. Reynold Washington, in-charge Project Director of the Samastha-USAID project in Karnataka.

However, a particular point of concern is the situation in north Karnataka districts, with high levels of HIV-TB co-infection. Districts in the region also show a higher HIV prevalence among the rural population.

The prevalence of HIV in Bagalkot is 2.38 per cent in urban population and 3.59 per cent in rural areas (2003). In contrast, in Mysore, it is 0.94 per cent (urban) and 0.71 per cent (rural).

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