The death of two members of a family from AIDS within 10 days of each other has sent the alarm bells ringing in Madhya Pradesh, which is otherwise considered a low prevalence state for the disease.
The present case pertains to a family in Ashta town, 100 km from the state capital. While two members of the family died of the disease this month, another succumbed to AIDS five years ago and yet another is battling for life, police say.
Devraj, 30, who was admitted to Ashta civil hospital April 9 and later shifted to MY Hospital, Indore, died after being discharged from the hospital last week.
His sister-in-law, Devaki Bai, 30, who had also been suffering from AIDS, had died April 9, the day Devraj was admitted to hospital.
Devraj's elder brother Gajraj Singh had died of AIDS five years ago. Yet another sister-in-law of his is also suffering from the same disease.
Both the siblings were truck drivers.
The state falls in the low prevalence category for HIV/AIDS, but it could be on the verge of entering the moderate category, fear NGOs involved in spreading AIDS awareness.
While states with less than one percent of the population inflicted with the disease are said to be `low prevalence', the moderate category is pegged at 23 percent.
"The population in the age group of 21-30 years is registering a sharp rise in AIDS cases and will soon replace the age group of 31-40 years. However, youth in their early 20s are becoming most susceptible," reveals the latest report of the Madhya Pradesh State Aids Control Society (MPSACS).
"Out of the total 1,701 AIDS patients in Madhya Pradesh, 38 percent AIDS affected persons belong to the 21-30 age group - only one percent less than that in the 31-40 age group," an MPSACS official said.
Three-fourth of HIV/AIDS patients reportedly contract the disease from unsafe sex and 72 percent of the patients are males.
While 205 people tested HIV positive in 2004, in 2005 the figure rose to 359 - the highest since 1988 when the first AIDS patient was reported in the state.
India has 5.1 million HIV/AIDS patients, second only to South Africa.