Tuesday June 26, 2018

Alarming statistics on rising HIV cases due to lack of Drugs, leave Home Ministry of India tensed

India accounts for 2.1 million Indians infected with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and forms the reason of concern for the health ministry

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AIDS awareness ribbon. Flickr
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  • ART are the drugs which are given to the infected of HIV positive and help in reducing the growth of this virus
  • In India, the drug cocktail is given to patients with a count of less than 350 CD4 cells per mm3 of blood
  • The Health Ministry said 940,000 (70 per cent) of 1.3 million HIV-infected patients with a CD4 count less than 350 are on anti-retroviral therapy (ART)

Sept 14, 2016: The statistics on the rising cases of HIV positive people in India are utterly alarming. India accounts for 2.1 million people infected with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) should be getting a cocktail of drugs to prolong their lives and reduce infections, but no more than 44 percent do, the Minister of Health told the Lok Sabha in April 2016.

According to IANS report, in India, the drug cocktail is given to patients with a count of less than 350 CD4 cells per mm3 of blood- CD4 cells are white blood cells, a count of which indicates the health of a person’s immune system.

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The Health Ministry said 940,000 (70 per cent) of 1.3 million HIV-infected patients with a CD4 count less than 350 are on anti-retroviral therapy (ART). The situation is worse among children, with no more than 36 per cent getting ART, mentioned IANS report.

ART are the drugs which are given to the infected of HIV positive and help in reducing the growth of this virus. According to WHO, this drug has to be given to each patient irrespective of their WBC count and stage of the disease.

Infants and young children living with HIV have an exceptionally high risk of poor outcomes, with up to 52 per cent of children born and living with HIV dying before the age of two years in the absence of any intervention,” said the WHO. “By five years of age, the risk of mortality and disease progression in the absence of treatment falls to rates similar to those of young adult.” Children are the worst of recipients of this disease it passes to them from their mother’s womb, reported IANS.

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 Chandigarh has 146 percent of HIV-AIDS patients on ART- many of whom likely to be from the adjoining Haryana, the state with the lowest ratio of HIV population to ART centres, thus explaining the 146 percent figure- followed by Meghalaya with 82 per cent and Mizoram with 73 percent, according to 2016 government data.At the bottom is Tripura with 2 percent, preceded by Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh with 14 per cent.

More than 37 million live with AIDS — the syndrome due to HIV virus — across the world, a 10 percent increase from 2010. Globally, access to ART has increased 126 per cent over five years to 2015: 17 million more people are on ART compared to 2010.

– prepared by Ayushi Gaur of Newsgram

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  • Anubhuti Gupta

    146% is a way too high percentage for a place like chandigarh..There should be more awareness for this. The article was indeed an eye opener

  • Enakshi

    These informations were really hard hitting.
    Everyone should know about it

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Across Asia’s Borders, Survivors Of Human Trafficking, Dial in for Justice

The trial has been ongoing since 2013

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Tara Khokon Miya is seen in her village home in Shipur, Bangladesh, Feb. 26, 2018. She is helping to prepare her 27-year-old daughter to testify via videoconferencing technology against the men who trafficked her to India.
Tara Khokon Miya is seen in her village home in Shipur, Bangladesh, Feb. 26, 2018. She is helping to prepare her 27-year-old daughter to testify via videoconferencing technology against the men who trafficked her to India. VOA

When Neha Maldar testified against the traffickers who enslaved her as a sex worker in India, she spoke from the safety of her own country, Bangladesh, via videoconferencing, a technology that could revolutionize the pursuit of justice in such cases.

The men in the western city of Mumbai appeared via video link more than 2,000 km (1,243 miles) west of Maldar as she sat in a government office in Jessore, a major regional hub for sex trafficking, 50 km from Bangladesh’s border with India.

“I saw the people who had trafficked me on the screen and I wasn’t scared to identify them,” Maldar, who now runs a beauty parlor from her home near Jessore, told Reuters. “I was determined to see them behind bars.”

“I told them how I was beaten for refusing to work in the brothel in the beginning and how the money I made was taken away,” she said, adding that she had lied to Indian authorities about her situation after being rescued, out of fear.

Thousands of people from Bangladesh and Nepal — mainly poor, rural women

and children — are lured to India each year by traffickers who promise good jobs but sell them into prostitution or domestic servitude, anti-slavery activists say.

Activists hope the safe, convenient technology could boost convictions. A Bangladeshi sex trafficker was jailed for the first time in 2016 on the strength of a victim’s testimony to a court in Mumbai via video link from Dhaka, Bangladesh’s capital.

Convictions for cross-border trafficking in the region are rare as most victims choose not to pursue cases that have traditionally required them to testify in Indian courts, which meant staying in a shelter for the duration of the trial.

“They have always wanted to go back home, to their families,” said Shiny Padiyara, a legal counsel at the Indian charity Rescue Foundation that has facilitated videoconferencing cases and runs shelters for trafficking victims. “And most never return to testify.”

But videoconferencing is making it easier to pursue justice. Survivors have given statements, identified their traffickers, and been cross examined in at least 10 other ongoing international cases in Bangladesh, advocates said.

“Enabling victims to testify via video conference will lead to a possible decrease in acquittal rates for want of prime witnesses,” said Adrian Phillips of Justice and Care, a charity that supports the use of video testimony to help secure justice.

Even then, it is tough. During Maldar’s three-hour deposition, she withstood a tough cross-examination, showed identity documents to prove her age and countered allegations by the defense lawyer that she was lying about her identity.

Students Combat Human Trafficking
Students Combat Human Trafficking, flickr

‘Unpardonable’

Tara Khokon Miya is preparing her 27-year-old daughter to testify against the men who trafficked her to India from Dhaka, where she had been working in a garment factory.

“I almost lost my daughter forever,” she said, sitting in her home in Magura, less than 50 km from Jessore, describing how she disappeared after work and was taken to a brothel in India, and raped and beaten for almost a year before being rescued.

“What the traffickers did to my daughter was unpardonable,” Miya said, wiping her tears. “We seek justice. I nurtured her in my womb and can’t describe what it felt like to not know about her whereabouts.”

The trial has been ongoing since 2013 when the young woman, who declined to be named, was repatriated. The charity Rights Jessore is helping the family through the process, by providing counseling and rehearsing cross-examination.

“The best thing is her father will be by her side when she talks in court,” Miya said, finally breaking into a smile.

India signed a bilateral agreement with Bangladesh in 2015 to ensure faster trafficking investigations and prosecutions, and with Nepal in 2017, and laid down basic procedures to encourage the use of videoconferencing in court proceedings.

“The procedure is very transparent,” said judge K M Mamun Uzzaman at Jessore courthouse, which often converts its conference hall into a courtroom for videoconferencing cases to protect survivors’ privacy.

“I’m usually present and victims are able to testify confidently … it is easy and cost effective for us,” he said. “But the biggest beneficiaries are the survivors.”

Silencing Victims
Silencing Victims, pixabay

The future

Videoconferencing in Bangladesh has been plagued by technical glitches such as power cuts and poor connections.

“Sometimes the internet connection is weak or it gets disconnected during the testimony,” said Binoy Krishna Mallick head of Rights Jessore, a pioneer in using this technology to encourage trafficking survivors to pursue justice. “But these are just teething troubles.”

The bigger challenge, activists say, is to ensure survivors remain committed to the trial despite delays caused by a backlog of cases and witnesses’ failure to appear to testify.

Swati Chauhan, one of the first judges to experiment with video testimony in 2010, is convinced that technology can eliminate many of these hurdles.

Also read: Imagining Panun Kashmir: Dissent And Detente in South Asia

“Victims go through a lot of trauma, so it is natural that they don’t want to confront their trafficker in a court — but that doesn’t mean they don’t want the trafficker to be punished,” she said. “A videoconference requires meticulous planning and it is not easy coordinating between departments and countries. But it is the future for many seeking justice.” (VOA)