Bihar ranks third, after Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh, in people living with HIV (PLHIV), with around 8,000 new cases recorded annually, a report by Hindustan Times showed, quoting Dr S Siddhartha Shankar Reddy, health specialist of UNICEF Bihar.
Despite a 27% dip in PLHIV cases, most youngsters, including gay men, intravenous drug users, men who have sex with men (MSM) accounted for most PLHIV cases in the state, according to the latest sentinel survey undertaken by the National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO) in 2017.
Earlier, higher infections were reported among female sex workers, but that trend has now been changed to MSM, Dr Reddy pointed out.
Compared to the country’s PLHIV prevalence rate of 0.22% (the number of people testing positive for HIV/ AIDS out of the population of 100), Bihar stands better at 0.17%.
Bihar’s annual testing figures have shown a decline in the number of people turning HIV/ AIDS positive.
The Hindustan Times report also said, “From 1.83% HIV/AIDS positive percentage, when 11,000 out of the 6 lakh people tested positive in 2018-19, to 0.91% in 2021-22, when 7,139 of the 6,87,439 tested till February, reported positive, Bihar’s interventions have been effective,” said Anshul Agarwal, project director of the Bihar State AIDS Control Society (BSACS).
The goal of removing the threat of the HIV diseases by 2030 has now been further pushed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Last year, the state inoculated at least 20,000 HIV patients with either the first or second Covid vaccine dose, according to a report by The Times of India.
The state health department data showed nearly 41,000 HIV positive patients are taking the benefits of welfare schemes launched for them.
The state government has been running awareness campaigns about AIDS for over two decades in which it has been convincing people that the disease does not spread by hugging, kissing, handshake or even sharing meals with each other.
According to the Human Immunodeficiency Virus and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (Prevention and Control) Act, 2017, any person discriminating against the patient will be liable to legal action.
The 2019 NACO report showed that 89 out of 4,000 prisoners, who underwent medical examination in November 2019, have been detected with AIDS. One of the main reasons behind the spread of the disease could be addiction to drugs, according to jail officials.