HIV crisis in Tripura Colleges comes to light

An incident from multiple educational institutes in Tripura has everyone's jaws clenched with shock. Read to know more about this HIV crisis that unfolded in the state.

Rajnandini Tiwari
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Picture taken from deposit photos.

In a shocking revelation echoing the early AIDS crisis, More than 800 students in Tripura, India have tested HIV-positive, with 47 fatalities till now. This epidemic, linked to intravenous drug use, spans 220 schools and 24 colleges, affecting even affluent families. The tragedy mirrors the global panic of the 1980s when HIV first emerged, baffling doctors worldwide.

Four decades later, HIV/AIDS remains a formidable health challenge. As we confront this resurgence in Tripura, we're reminded of HIV's complex nature and the ongoing global battle against it. Join us as we explore the impact of HIV, its treatment advancements, and the hope that drives our continued fight against this persistent threat to public health.

HIV and its silent spread

HIV, or Human Immunodeficiency Virus, is a sneaky little troublemaker. It attacks the very system designed to protect us: our immune system. Specifically, it targets CD4 cells, the commanders of our immune army. Without these cells, our body becomes vulnerable to all sorts of infections and cancers it would normally fight off with ease. One of the reasons HIV became a global pandemic is its ability to spread undetected. Unlike a cold or flu, HIV doesn't immediately announce its presence. People can carry and transmit the virus for years without knowing it. This silent spread is why regular testing is crucial, especially for those at higher risk.


From HIV to AIDS

Left untreated, HIV can progress to AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome). This is when the immune system is so damaged that the body can't fight off infections. But here's the good news: with modern medicine, many people with HIV never develop AIDS. The World Health Organisation (WHO) has shared a factsheet on HIV/AIDS which provides a more comprehensive insight.

Treatment: A Game-Changer

The introduction of antiretroviral therapy (ART) in the mid-1990s revolutionized HIV treatment. Remember the tragic stories of young people wasting away from AIDS? Thanks to ART, that's now rare in places with access to treatment. Today, people with HIV who receive proper treatment can live long, healthy lives.

Take the case of Magic Johnson, the NBA superstar. Diagnosed in 1991, many thought his days were numbered. Yet, over 30 years later, he's thriving – a testament to the power of modern HIV treatment. By the way, do you know about the person who first discovered HIV cases in India? She was a woman and her name was Sellappan Nirmala.

The Global Picture and India's Challenge

While we've made incredible progress, HIV remains a significant challenge, especially in resource-limited settings. Sub-Saharan Africa bears the brunt of the global HIV burden, but India faces its unique challenges.

India, home to the world's largest population, has approximately 2.3 million people living with HIV. While this represents a relatively low prevalence rate of 0.22%, the sheer population size means India has the third-largest HIV epidemic in the world. However, The country has made significant strides in its fight against HIV, reducing new infections by 37% between 2010 and 2019.


Stigma: The Ongoing Battle

Perhaps the most insidious aspect of HIV is the stigma surrounding it. This stigma can be as devastating as the virus itself, leading to discrimination, isolation, and reluctance to seek testing and treatment. Breaking down these barriers is crucial in our fight against HIV, particularly in socially conservative societies like India.

The Future: Towards a Cure?

While we don't have a cure for HIV yet, scientists aren't giving up. As the time goes by, we have seen various advancements in research in this cause. From gene therapy to therapeutic vaccines, researchers are exploring multiple avenues. The famous "Berlin Patient" and more "London Patient" cases – where HIV was effectively eliminated through stem cell transplants – offer tantalizing glimpses of what might be possible. 

The story of HIV is one of tragedy and triumph, of devastating loss and remarkable scientific achievement. It's a reminder of our vulnerability as a species, but also of our incredible resilience and ingenuity. As we continue to fight this virus globally and in India, let's remember the importance of compassion, education, and access to healthcare for all. Together, we can write the final chapter in the story of HIV.






We are an information-gathering blog. For all medical interventions, please consult a registered medical practitioner.
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