AIDS incidence in Gulbarga district in the southern Indian state of Karnataka has come down significantly. That is considered an endemic region. Four years ago the situation was considered alarming there.
But now symptomatic surveys and results of blood tests done in the district hospital and Voluntary Counselling Testing Centres reveal a different picture, it has been reported.
A senior official of a non-governmental organization (NGO) told The Hindu on Monday that if earlier there were at least 20 positive symptomatic cases of sex related diseases out of every 100 persons, which later turned out to be HIV, it had declined to only eight now.
The continuous efforts and awareness programme taken up by the NGO and the Karnataka State AIDS Prevention Society has had its desired results, at least among the core group of commercial sex workers and using condoms had become almost common among them.
The senior commercial sex workers, who have been adopted as peer workers by the NGO for taking up the awareness work, also act as a bridge between the government and the active commercial sex workers.
These peer workers bring those suffering from HIV-related symptoms to the hospitals regularly and to the 22 referral clinics.
A major problem complicating the scenario is the presence of the "hidden sex workers" who don't take to the street but operate from within their own houses or elsewhere, catering to a restricted clientele.
According to the official of the NGO, there were at least three such "hidden sex workers" for every 1,000 population. "Keeping track of the 'hidden sex workers' is a difficult task," he noted.