The spread of the dreadful HIV/AIDS disease is slowly growing in the small hill district of Tamenglong, Manipur.
In an exclusive interview with Dr G Majachunglu, chief medical officer, Tamenglong district, the CMO told the Imphal Free Press that at least 10 new cases were reported in the last one year.
The CMO said that while at least nine HIV/AIDS positive cases were detected from 2,528 general clients who were screened for the infection during the period from April 2022 to March 2023, one positive case was detected at the ANC pregnancy testing centre during the same period.
The CMO also informed that the total number of people taking Antiretroviral Therapy (ART) in the district increased from 130 to 140 in the district. ART is a treatment of people infected with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) using anti-HIV drugs. At least four persons were marked as lost to follow up cases, she added.
Expressing concern over the spread of the infectious disease in the district, Dr Majachunglu appealed to all citizens of Tamenglong to come for screening of HIV/AIDs at the Tamenglong District Hospital, Duigailong, which is provided free of cost.
Stressing on the importance of early testing, diagnosis and treatment of the disease to save lives, the CMO said that knowing one’s HIV/AIDS status in life is important to stay healthy and lead a long life.
When asked about the factors causing the spread of the disease in the district, the CMO pointed to needle sharing by drug users as one of the main reasons for increasing HIV/ AIDS cases in Tamenglong district.
Dr Majachungliu also mentioned that the only district hospital in Tamenglong, situated at the Duigailong area has no surgeon and hence, serious cases of patients are often referred to other health institutions in state capital Imphal for further specialised treatment if required.
Ironically, the Tamenglong district Hospital, Duigailong, also does not have anaesthetic specialist doctor and therefore, high risk pregnancy cases have to be referred to Imphal, the state capital which is located far away.
The CMO also lamented that due to the deplorable condition of the roads in the district, all ambulances in the district hospital are in bad condition, being repaired from time to time. Tamenglong district hospital has no morgue too, she added.
As many young students are involved in drug abuse, she felt the need to educate the youth about drug menace. “There is a need to make young students and youth understand the ill effects of consuming drugs and to spread awareness about illicit trafficking and drug abuse.
She informed that in the last two years, active OST clients have increased to 76 from 24 at the Tamenglong District Hospital, Duigailong.
As the district hospital is located quite a distance from the headquarters, an NGO called AWARE is providing OST where the incidence of HIV active clients have increased from 395 to 779 in the last two years, the CMO said.
As many as 85 drug addicts are registered at the rehabilitation centre, she said.
She also stated that drug users are prone to HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis B and C due to sharing of needles from infected persons.
According to the Manipur AIDS Control Society (MACS), the first few cases of HIV infection of the country were reported in 1986. Since then, Manipur today is one of the six high HIV prevalence states in India. The state with hardly 0.2 per cent of India's population is contributing nearly eight per cent of India's total HIV positive cases, MACS said.