Berhampur, Dec 7 (LocalWire) The Ganjam district administration has launched a drive to create awareness among youngsters to get screened for HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) before tying the nuptial knot.
The drive was aimed to prevent the transmission of the virus of deadly AIDS (acquired immune deficiency syndrome) to spouses and then, to the child.
“District collector Vijay Amruta Kulange has instructed us to launch a drive to create mass awareness to educate the younger generation about benefits of HIV screening before marriage,” said Hemant Kumar Das, project coordinator, Ganjam district AIDS control unit.
Chief District Medical Officer (CDMO) Sadananda Mishra said generally parents match horoscopes of their children before marriage but overlook the health factor.
“Along with horoscopes, we are also requesting parents to advise their wards to screen themselves for HIV before getting married,” said Jacob Thundley, president of People’s Education Movement (PREM), an NGO.
He said spread of the virus can be controlled, if the young generation comes out of their inhibition and undergo HIV screening.
“The HIV screening campaign will be implemented at least six high risk and migrant-prone blocks in the district,” said Loknath Mishra, director ARUNA, an organization working with AIDS patients.
The blocks include Aska, Purushottampur, Hinjili, Khallikote and Beguniapada.
The drive assumed significance as several couples succumbed to AIDS after marriage in the district, which has the highest number of HIV positive people in Odisha.
At least 15,373 people tested positive for HIV till the end of last October, said Das.
A 39-year old Beguniapada resident Santosh (name changed) is HIV positive. He said his wife was also infected with the disease after she got married to him and died of cancer two years back.
Das said, in order to prevent transmission of the virus from mother to child, they tested all pregnant women of the district for HIV.
The testing facility was extended to all hospitals and ANM centers at village level, he said.