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New HIV cases down by 56% in India: UNAIDS

UNAIDS’s World AIDS Day report for 2011,which was released,revealed a dramatic decrease of 56 per cent between 1996 and 2010

UNAIDS’s World AIDS Day report for 2011,which was released on Monday,revealed a dramatic decrease of 56 per cent between 1996 and 2010 in the number of new HIV infections in India. South and South East Asia with an estimated 2,70,000 new HIV cases in 2010 showed a 40 per cent reduction but India’s figure is significant as it is the country with the largest HIV load in the region. Worldwide,with 2.7 million new HIV infections in 2010,the number of new infections went down by 21 per cent compared to 1997.

Incidentally,the report points out,the rate of HIV prevalence is lower in Asia than in some other regions but the absolute size of the population means it is the second largest group of people living with HIV. Sub-Saharan Africa continues to be the region most heavily affected by HIV in 2010 with 70 per cent of the new infections being reported from the region. The number is 26 per cent less than at the height of the epidemic in 2007. An estimated 5.6 million people are believed to be living with HIV in South Africa alone.

The report highlighted the burgeoning HIV load of countries in Eastern Europe and Central Asia where there was a 250 per cent increase between 2001 and 2010 in people living with HIV and the fact that the HIV epidemic in North America and Western and Central Europe remains “stubbornly steady”. The total number of people living with HIV in the region was 34 per cent more than the figure in 2001. More than half of the total 2.2 million HIV positive people in the area are from the US.

Commenting on India’s success in restricting the epidemic,Sayan Chatterjee,secretary,National Aids Control Organisation (NACO),said: “It gives us great satisfaction to see India’s efforts in the area of prevention bearing fruit and our programmes being lauded by international organisations. It is the whole bouquet of measures that we have put in place,including programmes for care,support and treatment that have ensured this.”

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Behaviour change among young people,sex workers,injectible drug users and MSM groups is the biggest reason for the fall in new HIV infections,the report pointed out.

Increased coverage of anti-retroviral therapy programmes was pronounced as the key to universal access to treatment,care and support.

According to UNAIDS and WHO estimates,47 per cent (6.6 million) of the estimated 14.2 million people eligible for treatment in low and middle income countries were accessing lifesaving ART in 2010 — a rise of 1.35 million since 2009. Around 400,000 new HIV infections in children are estimated to have been averted since 1995 due to increased access to effective ART regimens.

First published on: 22-11-2011 at 03:03:31 am
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