On World AIDS Day, there is some cheer for Mumbai as there has been a 55% decline in the new HIV infection cases in the last five years.
According to data provided by Mumbai District AIDS Control Society (MDACS), HIV positive cases this year (from April 16 till October) have been 1.6% as compared to 3% in 2014-15.
“Number of new HIV infections have decreased in last five years from 16,144 in 2009 to 7,498 in 2015-16. People living with HIV (PLHIV) registering for antiretroviral therapy (ART) services have increased and currently 33,351 are on lifelong ART,” said Dr Shrikala Acharya, additional project director, MDACS.
With dip in new HIV infection cases in Mumbai, Acharya said their focus is now on improving CD4 counts (an indicator of one’s immune system, and a falling CD4 count means a person infected with HIV is exposed to opportunistic infections) and ensuring PLHIV continue treatment.
“On World AIDS Day, we are launching real-time monitoring mobile app for PLHIV. It will be a pilot project that will be started in JJ Hospital and Ambedkar Hospital in Kandivli. It will be a voice interactive app wherein the patient will receive reminders for medicine. They have to feed information on whether they had taken the medicine. It will be easy for us to track patients,” said Acharya.
She added that depending on the success of the project, it will be replicated in other centres too. “Defaulters in HIV programme is a huge problem. Since 2010, 20% HIV patients registered in our programme have not turned up for follow-up,” said Acharya.
Acharya said fight against the deadly virus continues as 91% of new HIV infection cases are registered due to unprotected sex. “Among those newly infected with HIV, 79% of them are in age group of 15-49 years. There are many who are not aware of their HIV status and are threat to others. Through advocacy, we are trying to reach as many youth as possible,” said Acharya.
To reach out to the youth, MDACS will be organising a competition among students of Mass Media. “They will be making short films for us. We will have an award for best film and it will be featured in theatres to spread awareness,” said Acharya.