What’s your status?

Aheli Moitra

If you are an adult with access to healthcare but have never had a full medical check-up, think again.

 

Nagaland State has 21,000 registered people currently living with HIV and features among top five states with the highest HIV/AIDS prevalence rate in the Indian Union. In 2017, people’s ignorance of their HIV status allegedly contributed to around 1588 new HIV infections in Nagaland State, informed Dr. Tokugha Yepthomi, senior medical consultant at Christian Institute of Health Sciences and Research (CIHSR) in Dimapur, while speaking at a program here on December 1, World AIDS Day. The theme for this year’s commemoration was ‘know your status.’

 

Worldwide too, one in four people living with HIV are unaware they have HIV, according to Mellissa Nyendak, Branch Chief, Prevention, Care & Treatment-CDC India. Not knowing your HIV status means that you are unable to access care, support, treatment and prevention services, also putting those around you at risk. Knowing your status means you can share a loving relationship with those around you by respecting, and caring, for yourself as well as others.

 

As we step into an increasingly urbanized world, the ‘know your status’ campaign applies to many conditions that are fast becoming endemic to the human race. Timely medical check-ups are requisite for adults to better understand our bodies in order for us to be better social beings.

 

But what happens once we know our status? In Kohima, during a World AIDS Day program, Nagaland State’s Minister for Health and Family Welfare urged people to go for a blood test, break stigma barriers associated with the condition and access free government healthcare available to people living with HIV. His speech conveniently ignored the reports by local newspapers like Eastern Mirror highlighting the regular lack of drugs in the State that are critical to the treatment of HIV/AIDS. The Principal Secretary to Nagaland’s Department of Health and Family Welfare and Chairperson of the Nagaland State AIDS Control Society did not acknowledge this problem either. Without the consistent consumption of these medicines, or their administration to new born babies with HIV positive parents, patients are likely to fall back in their treatment, making the condition as good as undiagnosed, putting a great many lives at risk.

 

It is all very well for politicians and bureaucrats to make the same old speeches that put the onus of HIV/AIDS on the people and society but efforts by the State to control the spread of the condition, as well as to help people live a secure life despite the condition, seem to be lacking in capability and will.

 

But even as the State strives to implement the Human Immunodeficiency Virus and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (Prevention and Control) Act, 2017, citizens need to do their part. Nagaland State reportedly has 70 Integrated Counselling and Testing Centres (ICTC), mainly located in government hospitals, where people can get tested as well as counseled on the care required should one be HIV positive. Let us avail these medical facilities to make ourselves, and the State, more accountable with a definitive response for when we are asked, what’s your status?

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