More than 270 full-blown AIDS cases have been detected in Uttarakhand, prompting authorities to launch a vigorous anti-pandemic campaign in the hill state.
As per latest official data compiled by the Integrated Counselling and Testing Centres (ICTSs) till January this year, 272 people, including 68 women, were suffering from AIDS in the state while the number of those infected with HIV virus stood at 1,867.
Dehra Dun district has the maximum number of HIV positive cases at 944 followed by Nainital with 264. While Haridwar has 114 HIV positive patients, Udhamsingh Nagar has reported 97 patients.
With the alarming rise in AIDS cases, the Uttarakhand State AIDS Control Society, is planning to open more ICTSs in the state for the detection of AIDS and HIV virus.
On its part, NACO has also launched a campaign through mobile vans, pamphlets, posters, hoardings and stickers.
At present there are 47 ICTCs in Uttarakhand, which are also providing facility of Prevention of Parent to Child Transmission (PPCT), said Assistant Director of Uttarakhand State AIDS Control Society, Abhinay Kumar Sharma.
"We are planning to increase the number of ICTCs in Uttarakhand as they are proving helpful in bringing more people specially women forward for testing and counselling," Sharma said.
Considering the target of having 4,955 ICTCs in India till 2012, Uttarakhand also hopes to set up 80 such centres in the next two to three years.
With an aim to create more awareness towards the killer disease, Sharma said community care centers are also being opened in the state.
Besides, two red ribbon express vans have also been launched in two districts-Dehra Dun and Udhamsingh Nagar which would spread information about HIV and AIDS among the people through street plays, puppet shows and folk dances. Later the vans would also cover other districts of the hill state.
Experts also pointed out that the socio-cultural and economic conditions of the fair sex in Indian society has made them more vulnerable to the virus. Women are also at a biological disadvantage in contracting the virus as HIV is more easily transmitted from men to women than women to men.
In fact, the gender inequality coupled with illiteracy and poverty are responsible for disproportionate impact of HIV and AIDS on women, the experts said.
According to a study, it has been found out that if Person Living With HIV/ AIDS (PLWHA) is a woman, she is likely to suffer additional burden of stigma, discrimination and rejection by the family as well as the society.
"Around 5.5 percent of female PLWHA are asked to leave home as compared to 1.9 percent of male PLWHA, Sharma added.