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Karnataka Wants to Make HIV Screening Mandatory for Couple Before Marriage

The Government of the southern Indian state of Karnataka is examining a proposal to make it mandatory for prospective couples// to undergo an HIV/AIDS test before marriage.

State Health Minister R. Ashok informed the Legislative Council on March 26 that the government had written a letter to the federal government suggesting such a legislation.

He said that there were several instances in which unsuspecting women had married HIV+ men. To avoid such tragedies blood tests could be made mandatory, he suggested.

According to the latest estimates, Karnataka has more than five lakh people affected with HIV and AIDS and the numbers are growing in rural areas. Twenty districts, several of them in north Karnataka have highly prevalence with affected persons constituting 2.5 per cent of the total population. Karnataka is the only state with the rural prevalence exceeding that of the urban areas.

In the legislative Assembly the same minister conceded that federal funds for AIDS prevention remained underutilized, by as much as 70 per cent, and promised to accelerate the program.

Medical Education Minister V.S.Acharya told the Council that the Government had decided to help private institutions set up medical colleges in seven districts that did not have medical colleges.

"We will provide all the assistance if private institutions come forward to set up medical colleges in these districts," the Minister said.

He said Karnataka had 36 medical colleges and three more were coming up.

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