The state and the city’s AIDS control bodies are now trying to curb HIV infection among the migrant population and truckers, which are considered high-risk groups for the deadly virus. While HIV prevalence has been on the wane in the past few years across the state, the virus continues to remain highly prevalent among migrants and truckers. The Mumbai District Aids Control Society (MDACS) on Monday will open its first integrated counselling and testing centre (ICTC) in the Mumbai Port Trust premises. “This is one area that was out of our reach for a while. We have finally succeeded in getting permissions from the Port Trust and are starting two mobile ICTCs that will be there on pre-determined days, when maximum truckers are present in that area,” said Dr Shrikala Acharya, MDACS’s additional project director. While one ICTC van will be at the Yellow gate, another will be inside the 1000-bed seafarers’ hostel campus at Masjid Bunder. AIDS control bodies say that the high mobility of the migrating population and truckers makes it tough to track them and follow up with them for testing and treatments. Health officials say that Mumbai still tops the chart of the HIV prevalence rate across the state, followed by Thane, Raigad, Nagpur and Pune. “The high migrant population in these districts is the leading cause of high HIV prevalence rate here,” said Pardeshi. The city and state HIV control bodies have brought down the rate of HIV prevalence across the state, but as per MDACS and Maharashtra State Aids Control Society (MSACS), the prevalence rate of HIV in migrant and truckers population remains high. “Maharashtra has 1% HIV positivity in the migrant and truckers’ population respectively. This is very high as compared to other high-risk groups. This year, therefore, we are focusing on the migrant population and truckers so as to bring down the HIV prevalence in this high-risk group,” said Khushalsinh Pardeshi, project director of MSACS. The move to set up mobile counselling and testing centres at the port trust comes against the backdrop of the government’s largely successful fight against the HIV virus (see box). The fight against HIV * Maharashtra has an estimated 4.2 lakh infected population (2006), but it has successfully contained the overall prevalence of HIV. * Estimated prevalence of HIV among adults in Maharashtra fell from 0.61% in 2007 to 0.40% in 2012-13. The prevalence figures for India dropped from 0.33% to 0.27% in the same period. * But the rate of HIV infection among youth aged 15-29 was about 31 percent of the total infections, which is a cause for grave concern. * According to National AIDS Control Organisation, an estimated 2.31 million people are infected with HIV in India (88.7% adults in 15-49 age group, 7.5% aged 50 and above and 3.5% children below 15 yrs). The prevalence rate of HIV/AIDS in the country is 0.27%. Women account for about 40% of HIV infections.
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