In a year AIDS claims 23 victims in Keonjhar
In Keonjhar district, famous for its richness in mineral resources including iron ore and manganese, the number of casualties and HIV positive cases has been on northward movement, according to government data. While 2,810 persons came to the counselling centres, 2,685 patients underwent HIV tests in 2008 out of which 39 persons tested positive. Three person died during the year. Similarly in 2009 while 2,944 persons turned up for counselling, 1,688 persons underwent HIV tests out of which 28 tested positive and the casualty figure stood at two. That was one less than the previous year.
In 2010, 3,396 persons underwent HIV tests and 22 were found to be positive. That year 3,658 persons willingly came to the counselling centres. Only one affected person died in the district in 2010. But the current year presents a real gloomy picture. Over 11,150 persons offered for HIV tests in the year while 15,502 persons came to the counselling centres. While 182 persons tested positive, 23 HIV persons have already died before the end of the year. Said Dr. Kishore Chandra Behera, Chief District Medical Officer,"The death toll due to HIV this year is a real caused for concern. People mostly industrial workers need to be aware against the diseasse and we will have to intensify our campaign in the mining areas."
Lakhs of workers, even from outside the state, are engaged in the mines dotted over the district. Sex workers and rackets thrive all over the mining areas creating concern among the health workers and NGOs working in the field. An NGO worker and social activist Dhirendra Kumar Rout said,"The disease spreads due to unsafe sed among the industrial workers. The police hardly takes stringent action against the sex racketeers." Not just NACO but other government and non-governmental agencies must work on sensitising the people especially the industrial workers about the dangers of HIV virus and help control, better eradicate, the disease in the district.