The Bundelkhand region is not only facing the menace of drought, the region is now slowly falling prey to HIV/AIDS.
According to a recent finding of the National Aids Control Organisation (NACO) and the Uttar Pradesh State Aids Control Society (UPSACS), out of the seven districts in the region, three have emerged with a high prevalence of HIV/AIDS cases, with the rest falling in the vulnerable category.
What is adding to its woes is the absence of an anti-retroviral treatment centre in the entire region. So far, Lalitpur was the only district in the entire region that was known as one of the HIV/AIDS prevalent districts. But in its April report, NACO has marked Banda as one of the districts with the highest prevalence of HIV/AIDS cases, followed by Chitrakoot and Lalitpur.
The reason being attributed to it is the increasing poverty that has forced large-scale migration from the region.
The Uttar Pradesh Network of Positive People (UPNP+), which has been supporting the UPSACS in providing services to the HIV-positive community in the state, states that the inclusion of Banda, Chitrakoot and Lalitpur in the high-prevalence districts is not surprising.
“For the last one decade, the entire region of Bundelkhand has been reeling under several problems like poverty, malnutrition and even hunger deaths. And there has been a large-scale migration, which adds to the vulnerability towards HIV,” said Pratap, project officer at the UPNP+.
“There is a large scale migration from here which is a major contributor,” agreed Dr RP Mathur, joint director of state government’s UPSACS. The other high-prevalence districts are Etawah, Mau, Allahabad, Meerut, Gorakhpur, Maharajganj, Varanasi, Kanpur and Allahabad.
The absence of any ART centre in the region will only make the situation worse.
“The number of HIV positive cases or the prevalence rate could have been brought down if there were proper health services in the region. But in districts where even basic medical services are not available, the lack of a single ART centre only comes as another blow,” Pratap added.