Overall decline in adult new-HIV infections, annual AIDS-related deaths, says NACO report

India has registered an overall decline in the number of adult new-HIV infections and annual AIDS-related deaths across the country, while Odisha, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu and Chandigarh have shown estimated adult HIV prevalence greater than the national prevalence, according to the latest round of HIV sentinel surveillance and estimations conducted by the National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO), which was released by Union Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad here on Friday.

The report notes that India has registered 57 per cent reduction in new HIV infections during last decade and 1.5 lakh lives have been saved due to scale up of free antiretroviral therapy (ART) services since 2004. NACO conducts HIV surveillance and estimations at regular intervals and the latest round was completed in 2011. The data generated is then used for estimation of HIV burden and projection of HIV epidemic trends in the country.

“The HIV estimations 2012 indicate an overall continuing reduction in adult HIV prevalence, new HIV infections and AIDS related deaths in India. The adult HIV prevalence declined from an estimated level of 0.41 per cent in 2001 through 0.35 per cent in 2006 to 0.27 per cent in 2011. The decline was registered in high prevalence areas including Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Manipur, Karnataka and Nagaland. Also of the 1.6 lakh estimated new infections in 2001 among adults, the six high-prevalence States account for 31 per cent of the new infections,” noted the report.

There has also been a considerable decline in HIV prevalence among female sex workers at the national level and decline has also been achieved among men with same-sex partners(7.41 per cent in 2007 to 4.43 per cent in 2011). Stable trends have been recorded among injecting drug users at the national level (7.23 per cent in 2007 to 7.14 per cent in 2011). Besides, North-East States where declines have been achieved, newer pockets of high HIV prevalence among drug users have emerged over the past few years, in States including Punjab, Chandigarh, Delhi, Mumbai and Bihar. In certain northern States, evidence indicates the possible role of migration in fuelling HIV epidemics. Besides high-risk migrants, long distance truckers also show high levels of vulnerability and form an important part of bridge population, says the report.

The data released also notes that the total number of people living in India with HIV/AIDS is estimated at 21 lakh in 2011, children less than 15-year-old account for seven per cent of all infections, while 86 per cent are in the age group of 15-49 years. Of all HIV infections 39 per cent are among women.

Stating that the evidence shows that India is on track to achieve the global target of ‘zero new infections, zero AIDS-related deaths and zero discrimination,’ NACO in its report states that major challenge for the programme will be to ensure that the treatment requirements are fully met without sacrificing the needs of prevention.

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