The West Bengal State AIDS Prevention & Control Society (WBSAPCS) has revealed that lack of knowledge regarding the spread of HIV virus has attributed to the sudden rise in the number of AIDS cases among homosexuals in the state.
According to the agency, the number of AIDS cases among homosexuals in the state has jumped from 0.14% in 2005 to more than 6.12% in 2006. This rise has been seen among drug users too with the number of cases rising from 4.64% to 7.41% in less than a year.
Dr Pallab Bhattacharya, who works with WBSAPCS, said that social stigma among homosexuals should be removed if the number is to be controlled, adding that medical assistance cannot be given to patients who hide their sexual orientation.
Says Anindya Hajra, who is the secretary of MANAS Bangla, a NGO for gay rights, "Social prejudices must be removed. The community first needs social space and security. We are working with WBSAPCS for few years now, and feel that the approach has to be above the medicalized model. We have to follow strict protocol and cannot work on our own terms. Why treat the community as a population that is spreading AIDS?"