Looking at the grassroots level work in the field of HIV AIDS across the city, the civic health officers on the occasion of World AIDS Day stated that social media is making it difficult to reach out to people mainly between the age group of 18 to 30 years.The number of HIV cases diagnosed among general clients has decreased by 56 per cent in last six years as per the civic-run Mumbai Districts AIDS Control Society (MDACS). Speaking about the status of difficulties faced by them to tackle the awareness level in general public, Dr Padmaja Keskar, BMC’s Executive Health Officer, said, “There has been decreasing in the number of HIV positive cases in a high-risk group. 36,000 patients are on life-long Anti-Retroviral Treatment (ART). The use of social media by a large number of citizens is making it difficult for us to increase the awareness level and give out factual information to the masses.”Adding more information, Dr Shrikala Acharya, additional project director of MDACS, said, “When we look 10 years back and now, we can see that there has been a lot of gap between the use of social media. These days, WhatsApp groups and forward messages can create negative impact too. Through our centers, we try to reach out to people directly at specific locations, but we can’t reach out to people through virtual media.”Speaking about the contribution of United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to decrease the number of HIV cases in the country, USAID Administrator Mark Green, said, “The organisation is contributing by giving out technical expertise regarding Information Education and Communication (IEC) to Mumbai Districts AIDS Control Society (MDACS) with an aim to spread awareness on HIV AIDS in the society. Across the country, we are helping India by giving financial support, technical expertise from our experience. Making of young leaders and working together will help to spread the word in vulnerable communities.”NEW DATAMDACS also reveals that the number of newly infected pregnant women declined from 466 in 2010-11 to 162 in 2016-17. Among the newly infected with HIV, 93 per cent have been infected due to unsafe sex, 3.7 per cent due to transmission from infected mother to baby, 0.3 per cent due to infected blood and 0.5 percent due to infected needles.
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Social media is making it tough to reach out to people