Stating that the state is yet to achieve satisfactory results in creating awareness among people on HIV/AIDS as well as in reducing stigma and discrimination, the deputy director general of National Aids Control Organisation (NACO) Dr Naresh Goel said that poor awareness and lack of knowledge among the people were a roadblock in achieving zero-infection target by 2020.
He was speaking at the inaugural function of third regional workshop on strengthening public and private sector response to HIV and AIDS, jointly organised by National Aids Control Organisation (NACO), International Labor Organisation (ILO) and Goa State Aids Control Society (GSACS).
He was referring to the National Family Health Survey (NFHS) report which stated that in 2005-06, only 28.5 per cent women knew about HIV/AIDS, whereas the awareness marginally increased in the year 2015-16 among 34.6 per cent women. Besides, 30.3 per cent men had comprehensive knowledge about HIV/AIDS during 2005-06, while the figure saw an increase of 41.9 per cent in 2015-16.
The deputy director general of NACO said that from 2008 the HIV infection has come down to 66 per cent and deaths by 54 per cent and now there are 86000 infections every year and nearly 67000 deaths due to HIV are reported annually. However, from past two to three years, there has been not much sharp decline that we expect to achieve the zero figures by 2030, he said.
“After working for 25-30 years in the field of HIV awareness programme, the achievement is poor. It is a worrying factor to witness poor awareness percentage of 25-30 per cent among men and women on comprehensive knowledge of HIV/AIDS in the country and 40 per cent in the state of Goa, which is disappointing,” says Goel.
While stressing the need to reach out to the untapped population of six lakh people for HIV testing, Goel said that “out of 21 lakh estimated people living with HIV in this country, there are around 6 lakh people, whose HIV status we don’t know and were neither tested and treated for incurable disease. It is a matter of concern. We all have to apply our mind to reach out to this untapped population.”
“Though there is a policy in place at workplace and educational institutions ensuring equal rights while seeking treatment, education and job by people living with HIV, stigma still exists; hence, we have to partner with more industries and spread knowledge on priority basis,” he added.
Project officer of International Labour Organisation (ILO) Baqar Mohammed said that HIV/AIDS in the world of work needs intensive efforts to overcome the incurable disease as it makes an enormous impact essentially in the industrial sector.