30

Nov2015

SPOTLIGHT: HIV/AIDS in Jammu and Kashmir

Photo credit www.worldaidsday.org

Today - 1st December - is marked across the world as the day dedicated to the fight against HIV-AIDS.  On this day I would like to talk shout the HIV-AIDS in my home state of Jammu and Kashmir. The state is usually associated with tourism because of its incredible natural beauty. And it's traditional lifestyle and conservative society does not afford much space for the discussion if this subject.

According to the Jammu and Kashmir AIDS prevention and control society, 3900 people in the state either are HIV+ or have full blown AIDS. There have also been recorded deaths from AIDS. Drug abuse, STDs [Sexually transmitted diseases] and HIV are interlinked. Many people from diverse backgrounds - students, truck drivers, migrant laborers, wives and children of fathers who suffer from AIDS - have been infected simply due to ignorance.

        According to Jammu & 
        Kashmir AIDS prevention
        and control society,3900
          people in state either are
        HIV+  or have AIDS. 

As we all know AIDS is transmitted in three different ways:

1) Transfusion of infected blood and blood products;
2) Misuse of contaminated syringes, mainly by drug abusers or by quack pharmacists;
3) From infected mother who passes the infection to her baby before, during or soon after birth.

             young people have
            become sexually active 
            at a younger age now

The majority of Jammu and Kashmir's population consists of youth, which continue to be ignorant about the facts of AIDS transmission.  Many studies have shown young people become sexually active at a much younger age than the youth of two or three decades ago.

They are also more independent of parental control, and subscribe less to traditional values. There are lifestyle changes. Yet, while they are sexually active, the youth often fail to use proper birth control or take measures to practice safe sex.

In some big cities teenage pregnancies are on rise. In Kashmir criminal abortions are also on rise, with a well backed, financed mafia running abortion centers covertly.

Many women in Kashmir contract HIV from their husbands who were themselves suffering from AIDS. When a woman gets AIDS she transmits it to her children.

     Many women in Kashmir
    contract HIV from their 
     husbands 

Another reason is drug addiction. Unknown to many, drug addiction is sadly common in Kashmir.  People who use drugs do not adhere to principles of safe sex as due to use of drugs their power of judgment and cognition is at its lowest ebb.

It is therefore of utmost  importance that screening for diabetes, hypertension, etc. start at the school level to University levels. Health certificates should be issued annually to working persons, as is routine in most European countries.

       Screening for diabetes,
     hypertension, etc. should 
      start at the school to
     University levels

WHAT ARE USES OF HIV TESTING?

If a man is infected with AIDS or is just HIV+, the first thing he can do is get free treatment, thus his life span will be increased. When married he can think of ways of not passing it to his wife, and so children will not be affected and they will remain disease free. Many patients who suffer from AIDS due to free treatment available at SKIMS [Sheri-Kashmir Institute Of Medical Sciences, Srinagar] are living a near normal life, their quality of life has improved. An intravenous drug abuser if diagnosed with AIDS can be careful of not at least sharing needles and stopping further dissemination.

Jammu and Kashmir is a low prevalence state regarding AIDS. We all wish that it remains so, but for it to remain so the following steps are necessary.

1. Checking prevalence of AIDS or HIV+ state among drug users.
2. Yearly routine tests of college and university going students.
3. Free testing of truck drivers, migrant laborers at entry points.

And above all let us share knowledge about HIV/AIDS and show love, empathy to such groups of people.

  • Written byDr. Arif Maghribi Khan

    Dr. Arif Maghribi Khan runs SEHAR-women’s health center in Srinagar, Kashmir.

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