By Tricitynews Reporter
Chandigarh 02nd May:- State AIDS Control Society launched the 21st Integrated Counseling and Testing Centre in Chandigarh which would provide free confidential testing for HIV and Syphilis, in the Transport Area, Sector 26 Chandigarh.
The Centre was inaugurated by the Anurag Agarwal, Health Secretary, Chandigarh Administration. He appreciated the efforts of the Department and various partner NGOs in bringing down the HIV prevalence in Chandigarh to a low 0.11%, far below the National prevalence of 0.27%. He also expressed gratitude to the partner NGO, Transport Corporation of India Foundation (TCIF) for their generous contribution and commitment to establish the testing laboratory under the PPP mode.
The Testing Centre is strategically located in an area where the “Bridge” Population comprising of Truckers and Migrants can easily access the testing services. There are about 250 long distance Trucks which visit this halt point. These Truck Drivers and Attendants travelling more than 800 km. away from home are vulnerable to HIV and STIs. In Chandigarh, it has been seen that a higher HIV positivity is present in this section of the society. One Targeted Intervention Project for Truckers and another for Migrants is being implemented by CSACS through the TCIF in the hot spot areas of Sector 26, Manimajra, Daria and around. The Facility of confidential counseling and testing has been established with the financial and physical support of the TCIF. It is expected that with the establishment of this Centre, testing of the High Risk Groups leading to early detection of the disease and early initiation of treatment, would eventually lead to stoppage of HIV transmission.
Dr. Manish Chandra, Project Head from TCIF, in response to the request by the Health Secretary announced that the Laboratory would soon also provide free basic tests to the Community.
It was informed by the Project Director Chandigarh SACS, Dr. Vanita Gupta that in Chandigarh, easy accesses to testing services and extensive awareness generation activities have resulted in larger number of voluntary testing. Testing has increased from 62621 people tested in 2012 to 112281 people tested in 2016-17. It is important that vulnerable population knows their HIV status at the earliest so that early treatment can be started which will not only provide a good quality and longevity of life to the infected person, but also break the transmission of HIV.
Other dignitaries who attended the programme and committed support were the DHS, President Truckers’ Association, the local area Municipal Councilor.