Fighting Against Fatal AIDS in India

Main Symptoms of Acute HIV infection

Fighting Against Fatal AIDS in India

-Dr. Arvind Singh 

AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) is an infectious disease discovered first time in the United States of America in 1981. Today this disease has emerged as a health problem in developing as well as developed nations of the world. According to an estimate about more than 100 million people all over the world are suffering from AIDS.

AIDS is a viral disease caused by a retrovirus (RNA virus) known as Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). The virus parasitizes the T4 lymphocytes (white blood cells) of the human blood and paralyzes the immune system thus exposing the body to opportunistic infections. The virus is transmitted to the human body through sexual contact, blood transfusion and sharing of the same syringe. AIDS is also transmitted from infected mother to child. The incubation period of AIDS varies between 6 months to 3 years.

The symptoms of AIDS include rapid weight loss, swollen lymph nodes, prolonged fever, and persistent night sweats. The patient suffering from AIDS dies due to opportunistic infections of pneumonia, tuberculosis, diarrhea and even sometimes from the common cold.
AIDS threatens social and economic progress, and in the process contributes strongly to the potential for violent conflicts. A World Bank study reveals that even an adult prevalence rate of 10 percent may reduce the growth of national income by up to a third. At infection levels above 20 percent, studies depict that a nation can expect a decline in GDP of 1 percent per year.

In India, the disease was reported for the first time in 1987 and today it is slowly and silently emerging as a health problem in the country. It is estimated that there are more than 5 million people infected from HIV in India.

As far as India is concerned in past the disease was mainly confined to the metropolitan among high profile society men and women but today the disease has spread and rooted itself to small cities and towns of the country. If the present trend would continue then in the coming years AIDS would become a serious health problem of rural India. The rural people moving to metros, cities, and towns for better job opportunities often becomes a victim of HIV infection. When they return to their native place they transmit the disease to others.

In India sexual intercourse has been the main cause of the transmission of AIDS. However, the state of Manipur is the only exception to this, where the transmission of the disease is due to the sharing of a common syringe by drug addicts. Blood transfusion is also a cause of AIDS transmission in India.

In an orthodox society of India, AIDS is considered a social stigma. The person affected by the disease often becomes untouchable for others. There are several instances where AIDS patients have been mercilessly killed in rural areas of the country. Thus victims are forced to hide their identity as AIDS patients. The various misconceptions relating to AIDS in Indian society adversely affect the rehabilitation of AIDS patients.

AIDS is still a non-curable disease. The medicines available against the disease can only prolong the life of the patient by checking the rapid multiplication of the virus. The commonly used drugs in Anti Retroviral Therapy (ART) include Dideoxyinosine (Azidothymidine), Zalcitabine, Saquinavir, T-20, etc.

The government of India has made several efforts to prevent the spread of the disease however, considerable success has not been achieved yet. Therefore, it is necessary to control the disease before it could become a serious health problem in the country. In this context, there is an urgent need to organize AIDS education on the prevention and management of the disease.

AIDS must be introduced as a compulsory subject at the school and university level. Moreover, AIDS must be taught under the Adult Education Scheme program in rural areas. Education on AIDS would not only help in controlling the disease but would also be helpful in elimination the discrimination against the patients. In addition to these, there is a need to launch a massive AIDS awareness program with the help of social organizations in urban as well as rural areas to propagate the real facts relating to AIDS.

AIDS has a long incubation period (the period between infection and the first appearance of the symptoms). During this time period, a HIV infected person indeliberately transmits the disease to a healthy person. Therefore, there must be provision for compulsory HIV tests after every 6 months to each and every citizen of the country so that HIV positive persons could be detected at an early stage of the disease. This would help in checking the transmission of the disease.

Conclusively it can be said fatal AIDS is gradually emerging as a serious health problem in India. Therefore, all possible efforts must be made to control the disease to avoid its adverse effects on the social and economic development of the country.
Dr. Arvind Singh is M. Sc. and Ph. D. in Botany with an area of specialization in Ecology. He is a dedicated Researcher having more than four dozens of published research papers in the journals of national and international repute. His main area of research is the Restoration of Mined Lands. However, he has also conducted research on the Vascular Flora of Banaras Hindu University-Main Campus, Varanasi (India). Furthermore, he is also an active science writer having more than 10 dozens of published science articles in different periodicals of national repute. His email address is:
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