‘HIV infections down by 46% in India’

Namrata Devikar
Saturday, 1 December 2018

“There is more awareness among people. So, many patients get themselves tested. Also, effective implementation of policies like mandatory check-up of pregnant women also makes sure that the infection is not transferred,” said Dr Alhat.

PUNE: Since the year 2010, new HIV infections have decreased by 46 per cent and AIDS-related deaths have decreased by 22 per cent in India, stated the United Nations Programme on Human Immunodeficiency Virus and Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (UNAIDS). Experts said this decrease in numbers is attributed to effective implementation of policies by the government and NGOs at the grass roots levels.

In 2016, India had 80,000 new HIV infections and 62,000 AIDS-related deaths were reported. There were 21 lakh people living with HIV in 2016, of them 49 per cent were accessing anti-retroviral therapy (ART), as per UNAIDS data. UNAIDS said that to eliminate the mother-to-child transmission of HIV and syphilis by 2020, the delivery of more cost-effective and integrated HIV services is required. This scale-up is included in the recently finalised National Strategic Plan 2017-2024.

Speaking about the reduced prevalence of HIV, Dr Madhuri Alhat, senior physician at Accord Sant Dnyaneshwar Hospital, said the number of patients has significantly reduced. “There is more awareness among people. So, many patients get themselves tested. Also, effective implementation of policies like mandatory check-up of pregnant women also makes sure that the infection is not transferred,” said Dr Alhat. Despite dedicated efforts, there is still a need for awareness and primary testing. Speaking about this need for more dedicated plans, Daljit Singh, President, Nathealth, Healthcare Federation of India, said the Central government has demonstrated resolve in making healthcare a national priority.

“Preventive care is a significant weak link that needs to be accorded primacy in the healthcare delivery chain if major health problems like AIDS are to be eliminated before they take root,” said Singh.

He added that the government will have to make clear choices with respect to priorities that need to be resourced under its flagship programmes.

“The paradigm of care in India needs to accord priority to the creation of a culture of health and wellness, rather than simply disease management. To undertake this journey, the health system needs to be redefined and clearly lay out the preferred path on the three key dimensions of access, cost and quality,” said Singh.

RISK GROUPS IN INDIA
- According to UNAIDS, the key populations most affected by HIV in India are:
- Firstly, sex workers with an HIV prevalence of 2.2 per cent.
- Homosexuals with an HIV prevalence of 4.3 per cent.
- People who inject drugs have an HIV prevalence of 9.9 per cent.
- Transgenders have an HIV prevalence of 7.2 per cent.

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