December 1, 2010 7:06:33 am
While the rate of HIV prevalence is on the decline among pregnant women and female sex workers,experts say the high-risk group that is causing concern is that of men having sex with men (MSM).
A tentative survey found there are around 6,000 MSM in Pune.
So far,we have provided intervention in the form of condoms and other medical aid to 1,600 MSM in the city and surrounding areas, says Bindu Madhav Khire,coordinator of the Sampathik Trust.
She pointed out that on the World AIDS Day they want to appeal to as many men as possible to undergo HIV test.
Sampathik Trust,that is funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation via the NGO Pathfinder,has received a grant of Rs 30 lakh this year to distribute around 20,000 condoms in Pune and around 12,000 condoms in Pimpri among the target group of MSM.
We hire people from this group to find others like them and educate them to undergo HIV tests to prevent transmission, says Khire.
Instead of organising events this year,we have decided to focus on a campaign that urges the MSM to undergo HIV tests. Of a registered 1,600 MSM this year,300 have agreed for voluntary HIV testing, says Khire,adding that as part of the measures to prevent HIV transmission they have funded their visits to doctors for check-ups.
At times it is difficult to locate MSM as there are some migrant labourers who have wives at their native places but get attached to men during the course of their work. In urban areas,there are married men who are bisexual and the risk of HIV transmission is higher in this group,says Dr R S Paranjape,Director of NARI. He has undertaken a study with the Mumbai-based Humsafar Trust to study various aspects of HIV transmission among MSM.
The study is funded jointly by the Indian Council for Medical Research and the National Institutes of Health.
It is executed at the Humsafar Trust in collaboration with NARI and Fenway Community Health Center,Boston.
The study aims at understanding the social and sexual networks of MSM in Mumbai,says Priti Prabhugate,in charge of the research study at Humsafar Trust.
So far,Humsafar has found out in smaller studies that married MSM are at a higher risk of getting HIV. They typically lead a double life where they may be married to a woman but still have male partners. Here,they have lesser bargaining powers than unmarried MSM and are more stressed out than the unmarried MSM,Prabhugate added.
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