Committee: 3 out of every 1,000 pregnant women in Meghalaya test positive for HIV

The Assembly Committee on Women Empowerment recently submitted its report to the Meghalaya Government. The Committee was led by Ampareen Lyngdoh. The Committee has found that three out of every thousand pregnant women in the state are testing positive for HIV in the state.

Key Findings of the Committee

  • According to the Committee, there are five thousand plus cases of HIV/AIDS in Meghalaya. The number of cases in the state is increasing alarmingly.
  • With the discussions made with the police department and social welfare department, the committee has identified that there is an urgent need to address the issue of commercial sex workers.
  • The Government of Meghalaya has been suggested to frame a policy to address the issue of HIV/AIDS.
  • The committee has recommended to conduct a study to find out the reason on why HIV is more prevalent among the pregnant women in the state.
  • The major concern that needs immediate action is the prevalence of HIV among sex workers in the East Khasi hills.
  • According to MACS (Meghalaya AIDS Control Society), there are more than two hundred sex workers in the state that test HIV positive.
  • There are schemes of the Central Government that try to rehabilitate sex workers in the state. However, it is currently not functioning due to very slow flow of funds from the centre.

Meghalaya Health Policy

In March 2021, the Meghalaya State Government adopted a new Health Policy. The policy does include AIDS. However, it has not prioritised the issue. The seriousness of the problem does not reflect in the policy. Also, the policy lacks to provide a detailed plan to eliminate AIDS in the state. The policy simply states the following:

  • The policy will aim to achieve “Global Target of 2020” where 90% of the people living with HIV will receive antiretroviral therapy.

Background

According to NACO (National AIDS Control Organisation), 0.54% of population in Meghalaya are living with HIV. Also, Meghalaya has the highest Syphilis cases in the country according to HIV Surveillance Sentinel, 2017. Around 1.03% of all pregnant have tested positive for the disease.

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