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Aids In India: Doctors Report New Trends

Revealing trends on AIDS in Indian society are bringing home some bitter truths: The Indian family, despite its strong bonds, is unable to prevent the spread of the HIV virus.

Medical practitioners here are reporting increasing numbers of HIV-positive people from main stream society in both urban and rural areas of Maharashtra.

The rich and the poor alike are falling prey to the virus whose spread is no longer restricted to "high - risk" people such as drug addicts, truck drivers, prostitutes and homosexuals.

According to experts, the growing trend of promiscuity and premarital sex, coupled with the failure of parents to instil the right values on sex is resulting in an unchecked spread of the AIDS virus in Indian society.

Marriage, too, has been unable to check the spread of the virus: A large number of young, married women are being diagnosed as HI-positive, particularly during delivery or ante-natal (pre-birth) medical examination.

"We've come across many instances where husbands have passed on the HIV virus to their wives. A huge family tragedy can be averted if people in India go in for pre-marital AIDS test, " Dr. Parag Pandit, dermatologist and consultant at the Joshi Hospital told The Times of Indian News Service. This trend was confirmed by both Dr. Sanjay Pujari and Dr. Vinay Kulkarni who have been working extensively on AIDS in Pune. Dr. Kulkarni said that the disease was widespread in India and the medical fraternity was unanimous in terming it an epidemic. "Unfortunately, Indian society has still not woken to the threat of AIDS,: he said.

Dr. Kulkarni, who is founder member of Prayas a city NGO, has dealt with 2,500 HIV-positive people over the last 11 years.

Dr. Kulkarni emphasised that the common perception that Indians are conservative on matters of sex "is a myth."

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