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Delhi home to over 32,000 HIV/AIDS patients

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Delhi home to over 32,000 HIV/AIDS patients

New Delhi, July 10 (IANS) The Indian capital is home to over 32,000 HIV/AIDS

patients and at least one million more are very much vulnerable to the deadly

disease, the Delhi State Aids Control Society (Delhi SACS) said Thursday.

'Though Delhi is low HIV prevalence state, it is highly vulnerable to the deadly

disease as the high risk population is spread across the city. Of the total

population of 16 million, at least one million are high-risk groups,' said B.S.

Banerjee, project director of Delhi SACS.

'The east, north, northeast and central districts of the state are more

vulnerable,' he told IANS on the sideline of a HIV/AIDS programme. He also cited

the floating population, number of trucker, people living away from homes and

cheap sex as the primary reasons behind the disease.

Banerjee said while nearly 77 percent of the spread of disease is through unsafe

sexual practices, Intravenous drug use (IDU) is responsible for 8.79 percent of

the cases and infected blood transfusion causes 7.14 percent of cases.

He said more and more commercial sex workers and IDUs are falling victim to the

disease but the disease prevalence among men having sex with men have reduced

from 20.4 percent in 2005 to 11.73 percent last year.

Delhi is home to over 61,600 female sex workers, nearly 30,000 men having sex

with men and over 17,100 intravenous drug users (IDUs).

'We know the antiretroviral treatment (ART) is costly but let me clarify that

all HIV positive who come to us get free medication. Currently over 6,000 are

availing ART treatment in Delhi,' Banerjee said.

Banerjee and NGO Naz Foundation's chief Anjali Gopalan were among a few Indian

experts who Thursday interacted with a group of Russian experts to explore

possibility of a joint effort to fight the disease.

While discussing the issues related to HIV/AIDS through video conferencing,

experts from both sides agreed to hold more such interaction to exchange ideas,

best practices and a possible joint effort for developing alternative medicine

to combat AIDS.

'We should meet more often to exchange views and learn from each other,' said

Vladimir Shreter, head of the Russian Information Centre here.

India is home to 2.5 million HIV/AIDS patients.

'The Indian government has realised the magnitude of the problem but just free

medication cannot help the cause. Proper nutrition for these people on ART and a

friendly society is very important,' Gopalan said.



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