An HIV certificate is a must before marriage, say an overwhelming 91 percent in an SMS survey in Kerala, which has over 70,000 HIV positive cases.
The survey, conducted by manoramaonline/yuva, saw 22,578 people taking part. Of this, 20,546 people said an HIV certificate was a must before marriage. Just 2,032 said that such a certificate was not a necessity. The survey results have just been published.
According to the Kerala State AIDS Control Society, the state has over 70,000 HIV positive cases.
HIV and marriage are two dimensions, maintains S.K. Hari, team leader of the Hindustan Latex Family Planning Promotion Trust, a project support unit of the AIDS control society.
"Being HIV positive does not mean that one is not eligible for marriage. And being HIV negative prior to marriage does not necessarily mean that it will be negative for the rest of life," Hari told IANS.
State Health Minister P.K. Sreemathy said that this was the point that needed to be discussed in society.
"Just through a law this cannot be made compulsory," the minister said.
Reacting to the survey, public health expert C.R. Soman said the idea of a HIV certificate was ridiculous. "HIV is not the most important public health problem in Kerala, and is therefore not a priority. Surveys show that Kerala is a low HIV prevalence state."
"In ante-natal women, HIV prevalence is as low as 0.3 percent. There is no evidence of increasing HIV prevalence in the state. Moreover, a mere 2.5 percent of those having sexually transmitted disease are HIV positive in Kerala, unlike in other states."
According to Soman, over the last two decades since the first AIDS case was reported in the country, things have not worsened in Kerala as far as HIV was concerned.
"There are more public health problems that need to be addressed than HIV," said Soman. "Currently there are 4.5 million people suffering from blood pressure in Kerala, three million with diabetes and close to 45,000 people dying due to heart attacks in the state every year."