‘India has seen a 56 per cent decline in new infections in the past decade’
Aiming at accelerating reversal and integrating response, the fourth National AIDS Control Programme (NACP-IV) has now aimed at zero infection, zero stigma and zero death.
The country has seen a 56 per cent decline in new infections. The number has reduced from 2.70 lakh new infections in 2001 to 1.27 lakh new infections in 2010, said B.B. Rewari, National Programme Officer (Antiretroviral Therapy) for the National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO).
Making a presentation at the 5th National Conference of AIDS Society of India that began in the city on Friday, Dr. Rewari said: “Despite a successful decline rate, we cannot afford to relax because HIV has the capacity to reverse decades of progress.”
As of now, 2.39 million people are living with HIV in the country with a prevalence rate of 0.31 per cent. “The 2011 surveillance data which will be released on the occasion of World AIDS Day on December 1 will show that the prevalence has further reduced,” Dr. Rewari said
Elaborating on NACO’s response to the epidemic in India, Dr. Rewari said: “We want to achieve zero new infections, zero AIDS related deaths and zero stigma and discrimination. The three National AIDS Control Programmes rolled out by NACO so far have helped in reducing the new infections and prevalence rate.”
“With a budget of Rs. 8,023 crore, the NACP-III has been a game changer endeavouring to halt and reverse the progression of this epidemic. The focus now is on prevention of HIV, especially among female sex workers, men having sex with men, intravenous drug abusers, truck drivers and migrants,” he said.
Sunil Solomon, Assistant Professor, John Hopkin’s University of Medicine, U.S., spoke on issues of the epidemic in homosexual men.
They are stigmatised in their familial and social environment. The highest risk from this sexual behaviour is to the wives and clients of these men. NACO is now reaching out to these high risk groups in collaboration with national and international organisations, he said.
S.N. Mothi, a paediatrician from Mysore, said currently children constituted 3.3 million of HIV infections in the world, with 1,15,000 (4 per cent) in India.
The three-day conference was inaugurated by the former Karnataka High Court judge M.F. Saldanha and Kannada actor Shivrajkumar.
President of the AIDS Society of India I.S. Gilada, vice-president of the society Dilip Mathai and organising secretary of the conference Glory Alexander were among those who spoke.
Earlier, Steven Smith, the U.S. Health Attache and Regional Representative, U.S. Department of Health and Human Resources, U.S. Embassy, New Delhi; Harvy Fleury, Medical Virologist from the University Bordeaux, France, and David Katzenstein, Head, Department of Infectious Diseases, Stanford University, U.S., received the lifetime achievement award.