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HIV Cases in the Armed Forces on the Decline

by VR Sreeraman on September 11, 2007 at 3:43 PM
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HIV Cases in the Armed Forces on the Decline

The Defence Ministry today claimed that the number of HIV/AIDS cases in the country's armed forces is continuously declining.

Defence Minister A K Antony told the Lok Sabha that there were 377 HIV positive cases in armed forces in 2006, as against 501 in 2001.

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The Government has been maintaining that number of HIV/AIDS cases in the defence forces remain at miniscule level at around 0.28 percent of the entire strength. However, there are reports that the figure could be as high as 4000.

A press release issued by the Defence Ministry in June this year stated: 'The rapid spread of HIV/AIDS in the armed forces has alarmed authorities.'
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The first case of HIV in a soldier was detected in 1992 after the soldier returned from a UN mission, the Ministry claimed.

The Defence Ministry informed earlier that in 2004 alone 104 HIV-infected soldiers were discharged from service.

A recent internal assessment carried out by the Ministry reportedly found that, out of the total number of HIV positive cases, Indian Army had the largest share of 81 percent, while the Indian Air Force and the Navy comprised only 2 and 10 percent respectively.

The Defence Ministry and the Indian Army have initiated a number of measures to combat the spread of AIDS by making special efforts to spread awareness about the disease among soldiers and their family members.

The Government of India has stepped up surveillance of High Risk Groups such as blood donors, patients of sexually transmitted diseases, tuberculosis patients and ante natal cases.

In the Armed Forces monitoring is done of personnel proceeding abroad on peace keeping missions and returning from overseas assignments.

The Armed Forces Medical Services are also running a comprehensive prevention and control programme of HIV / AIDS is close coordination with the National AIDS Control Organisation and United Nations AIDS Programme.

Source: ANI
LIN /J
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