Three out of 1,000 pregnant women testing HIV positive: Meghalaya panel

Assembly committee seeks a scheme to rehabilitate commercial sex workers

Three out of every 1,000 pregnant women in Meghalaya are testing positive for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), the State’s Assembly Committee on Women Empowerment has said.

The panel has also sought a scheme for rehabilitating commercial sex workers in view of the increase in HIV/AIDS cases at an ‘alarming’ rate.

Congress MLA and committee’s chairperson Ampareen Lyngdoh said the members of the panel were ‘shocked’ when inputs from the departments concerned said three out of every 1,000 pregnant women have been testing HIV positive.

“We have asked the government to conduct a study on the reasons for such a situation being faced by pregnant women,” she said.

“The committee also discussed with the State police and the Social Welfare Department on the need to immediately address the issue of the commercial sex workers,” Ms. Lyngdoh said, adding that Meghalaya has more than 5,000 HIV/AIDS cases.

“The departments have assured us that the government will design a policy specifically to address the issue of HIV/AIDS in the context of commercial sex workers,” she said.

Committee member Himalaya M. Shangpliang, also a Congress MLA, said the prevalence of HIV/AIDS among sex workers in East Khasi Hills district was alarming. He quoted the project director of the Meghalaya AIDS Control Society (MACS) as saying more than 200 sex workers in Shillong were HIV positive.

“We would like to help them. I would request people who are carrying HIV in them to meet members of the MACS who are ready to help, as all medications are provided free of cost,” he said.

Mr. Shangpliang lamented the “slow fund flow” from the Centre for the scheme to rehabilitate sex workers and sought properly designed rehabilitation packages.

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