Gangtok, November 27: On Wednesday, while addressing a media briefing in Gangtok, the Project Director of Sikkim State Aids Control Society (SSACS) Dr Sarita Lama informed that there are a total of 480 HIV positive cases reported in Sikkim, out of which 59 are detected as full-blown. From the 480 cases, there are 289 males and189 females.
She added that in 2019, there have been 33 new cases of HIV positive were reported. It was further informed that 95% of patients are from the 20-39 age group. The number of HIV related deaths are reported to be 104.
“There has been a slight increase in HIV positive cases in Sikkim. However, our awareness program in the state in full swing” she added.
The mode of transmission of HIV (positive) cases shows that 90% of them have been contracted due to sexual relationships, while others were caused by blood and other related factors. Although the entire population comes under the at-risk group, the LGBTQ+ community, drug users and sex workers are more vulnerable to being infected by HIV because they have lesser access to proper healthcare and in the case of sexual relationships, instances, when a partner who is HIV positive does not disclose information about it, thus transmitting the virus to the uninfected partner, is considered illegal.
“The data is only of those whose testing was done; there may be many cases which are unreported as most people are reluctant to do HIV testing due to self-stigma,” said Dr DS Keorangi, Additional Director (SAACS).
One of the main reasons why people refrain from getting tested is a fear of the results, when in fact the problem could be dealt more effectively if people who tested positive could gain access to treatment before neglect and ignorance ruin their immune system to a point where it becomes fatal.
This year, World Aids Day is being observed with the theme “Communities make the difference” on December 1st. The function shall always witness a felicitation ceremony for people who have been working actively in the fields of awareness and counselling. Dr MK Sharma, the Health Minister shall attend the function as the chief guest.
The grand finale of the MultiMedia campaign ‘Red Fest’ will also be held on the same day. Six bands, namely – Blastinoc, G Force, Bipolar Shadows, Himalayan Junkies, Guns from the Countryside and The Crossroads will be competing to win the show and take home a cash prize of Rs 80,000. The judges for the competition are- Sachin Lemo Gurung, Nikki Rai, Sonam Lachungpa, Lakpa Tamang and Dr Uttam Pradhan.
KC Nima, member of Recovering Users Network informs that three guest bands – Nightmares, Roll Heads and Still Waters will also perform at the event.