Rape victims must be provided anti-HIV drugs treatment within 8 hours of rape so that they do not suffer from HIV/AIDS. This would be a preventive measure.
Due to lack of awareness, this treatment is neither mandated nor provided in India though there are guidelines for its use among doctors, nurses and other medical professionals who may be exposed to HIV, said Dr I.S. Gilada, President, Aids Society of India.
A proactive movement for creating public awareness for the use of post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) to prevent the spread of HIV in victims of sexual assaults will be raised at the National Conference of AIDS Society of India to be held from December 13 to 15. PEP is the term that describes the medicine given to a person who may have just been exposed to HIV, to prevent contracting the virus.
Speaking at a press conference on Tuesday, Gilada said, A new drug-combination treatment can prevent HIV infection up to 100 per cent in victims of sexual assaults if administered within eight hours of the rape incident. This is a short term, inexpensive, antiretroviral treatment (ART) which can prove effective if started within this period. The initiative to administer this treatment should be taken by the relatives of the concerned victim if her/his life needs to be saved, and also by the law enforcement agencies, that usually focus only on the crime angle but forget the human and life-saving part of it.
The last few years have witnessed a steep rise in rape cases in India. Statistics provided by the National Crime Records Bureau in 2012 recorded 24,923 rape cases.
This figure broadly represents the number of rape cases among women in the country cases that were reported and registered. If one takes into account the number of incidents that were not reported due to fear of social stigma or fear of reprisals from the perpetrators of the crime, the figure could be exponentially high, says Gilada.
It is vital that rape victims are not just provided immediate trauma care but precaution should also be taken to ensure that they do not contract sexually transmitted diseases including HIV, he stressed.
Meanwhile, the Supreme Court has ruled that homosexuality is a crime and has upheld Section 377 of IPC relating to unnatural sex saddening the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and transgender people who were very happy when the Delhi High Court had decriminalised the homosexuality. The Supreme Court verdict is likely to effect the status of HIV/AIDS spread in India, HIV experts feel.