NEW DELHI: “I know my HIV status” will be the catchline for the new campaign which the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare is planning to launch with the twin objectives of nipping the stigma associated with HIV, and getting more and more people, who test positive, opt for treatment. The campaign would encourage people to get themselves tested and declare their HIV status on social media. The ministry also plans to rope in celebrities for this programme.
According to a United Nations report, 19 million of the 35 million people across the world living with the virus do not know their HIV positive status. Given the lack of awareness, ending the AIDS epidemic by the target year 2030 will require some hefty campaigning.
India has the third-highest number of people living with HIV in the world, with 2.1 million Indians accounting for about four out of 10 people infected with the deadly virus in Asia. A senior official in the department of health research said, “The aim is to make people realize that HIV is a liveable infection. People live with many diseases such as diabetes, which can be managed. Similarly, HIV can also be managed.”
The official said that the basic aim is to get more and more people who are HIV positive under the ambit of Anti-Retroviral Treatment, so that they do not develop full-blown AIDS. As per the UN report, HIV treatment coverage is only 36 per cent in India, whereas 51 per cent of AIDS-related deaths occur here. Six countries – China, India, Indonesia, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam – account for more than 90 per cent of the people living with HIV in the Asia-Pacific region.
Health Ministry data shows that 64 per cent of HIV positive people in India do not have access to Anti-Retroviral treatment.