AIZAWL, Dec 2 - With the highest rate of infection in India, Mizoram is currently facing a serious threat of HIV epidemic.
With 1.19 per cent of pregnant women tested positive for HIV, against the national average of 0.28 per cent, Mizoram has the highest rate of infection in the whole country.
The rate of HIV infection is growing unchecked in all the eight districts of Mizoram and to make the matter worse, it is now more prevalent in normal people, who are not considered �high risk groups.�
�In the early 1990s, HIV cases were common among high risk groups like intravenous drug users and commercial sex workers. From 2000, HIV cases increased among normal people, who are not high risk groups, but who lived high risk behaviour. The most common cause of transmission is unsafe sex,� Mizoram State AIDS Control Society (MSACS) said in a statement.
The rate of HIV infection among normal people increased from 2.9 per cent in 2014 to 5.5 per cent in August 2018, it said.
From new HIV cases detected during 2015 till August 2018, it has been discovered that 61.4 per cent of HIV-infected persons received the virus from casual sex partners who are not commercial sex workers, while only 3.3 per cent got infected from commercial sex workers. This shows how HIV infection is common among normal people, it said.
HIV rate has also witnessed an increase by 19.81 percent among intravenous drug users, according to the 2016-2017 HIV Sentinel Surveillance report. This too is the highest in India.
What worries the activists is that while the rate of HIV cases keeps increasing that of the number of people going for blood test declines. While 56,750 samples of blood were tested in 2017-2018, only 24,054 blood samples were tested during April-August this year.
Parent-to-child is one of the three main modes of transmission. The rate of HIV infection from mother to child increased from 7.5 per cent last year to 9.4 per cent this year.
In association with AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) India, India Cares, and Zonet Cable Network Limited, MSACS organised an awareness rally on Saturday under the theme: �Know Your Status.�
�The problem that dwells with us and what worries us most is that many people, who are not considered high risk groups, but who live high risk behaviour, refuse to have their blood tested. Such people who live with HIV, but whose status is not known, poses great threat to the society,� said one worker who did not want to be named.
Knowing one�s status is the key to prevent the further spread of HIV in the society, he added.