NEW DELHI: Acquired Human Deficiency Syndrome or AIDS, once a dreaded disease in India, is much less of a killer and a threat to public health in the country now. Figures show that the country reported around 87,000 new AIDS cases in 2017, marking a decline of nearly 70% in new infections since 1995 when the disease, which spreads due to a deadly virus infection, was at its peak. With an HIV prevalence of 0.26 % in its adult population, India has an estimated 2.1 million people living with HIV, according to a 2017 government report.
The National strategic plan for HIV/AIDS suggests that bio-behavioural surveys confirm that HIV prevalence is high or “concentrated” among ‘key populations’ that include female sex workers , men who have sex with men, transgender, people who inject drugs and long-distance truck drivers and migrants.
While noting that since 1986, when the first AIDS case was reported in India, the report says the national response to the disease resulted in a significant achievement of 66% reduction in new infections between 2000-2015 and 54% reduction in AIDS-related deaths since 2007. It also revealed that the trend of sharp reduction in new cases has largely flat-lined between 2010 and 2015.
“In other words, the National AIDS Control Organisation must accelerate its HIV response so as not to roll back earlier gains and ensure a substantive decline in new infections to end AIDS,” the report noted.
The Union government has set sights on reducing new HIV infections by 75% in the country by 2020.
It has also pledged to enable 90% of HIV positive people in the country know their status on treatment and provide 90% of those on treatment experience with effective viral load suppression. The government’s focus would give a lot of heart to those stricken with the killer disease.
Taming the dreaded killer
The government report says that since 1986, when the country’s first AIDS case was reported, the national response to the disease resulted in a significant achievement of a 66% reduction in new HIV infections between 2000-2015 and 54% reduction in AIDS-related deaths since 2007