50% drop in HIV cases in India

Last Updated: Nov 23, 2010, 00:00 AM IST

New Delhi: India has shown a 50 percent drop in the number of new HIV infections in the last 10 years as the AIDS epidemic is beginning to reverse globally with a decline in the newly-infected HIV cases and AIDS-related deaths, says a United Nations report released Tuesday.

The 2010 UNAIDS Report on the global AIDS epidemic shows about 33.3 million people were estimated to be living with HIV at the end on 2009 with 2.3 million living in India.

An estimated 2.6 million people became newly infected with HIV in 2009, nearly 20 percent fewer than the 3.1 million people infected in 1999. In India, 120,000 people got infected in 2009.

While 1.8 million people died from AIDS-related illnesses, nearly one-fifth lower than the 2.1 million people who died in 2004, about 170,000 people died in India.

"We are breaking the trajectory of the AIDS epidemic with bold actions and smart choices. India is doing quite well in HIV treatment. Investments in the AIDS response are paying off, but gains are fragile -- the challenge now is how we can all work to accelerate progress," said Charles Gilks, UNAIDS country coordinator India.

The 2010 report contains basic HIV data from 182 countries and from 2001 to 2009, the rate of new HIV infections stabilised or decreased by more than 25 percent in at least 56 countries around the world, including 34 countries in sub-Saharan Africa.

Among young people in 15 of the most severely affected countries, the rate of new HIV infections has fallen by more than 25 percent led by young people adopting safer sexual practices.

In 59 countries including 18 of the 25 countries with the highest HIV prevalence, less than 25 percent of men reported having sex with more than one partner in the last 12 months. Eighty-four countries reported the same behaviour trends for women.

Condom use and availability have increased significantly among high risk group like sex workers and transgenders. Eleven countries, including Burkina Faso, India and Peru, report more than 75 percent condom use at last higher-risk sex.

Even though the number of new HIV infections is decreasing, there are two new HIV infections for every one person starting HIV treatment.

Investments in HIV prevention programmes as whole have not been adequate or efficiently allocated.

"We need annually $15 billion for HIV prevention and treatment but only $8 billion is earmarked globally. There is an urgent need to sustain and scale up good investments and for countries to share the financial burden of the epidemic. Many countries are under-investing and need to increase their domestic financial commitments to sustain and scale up the AIDS response," said Taoufik Bakkali, UNAIDS senior monitoring and evaluation adviser, India.

The report found that more people are living longer and AIDS-related deaths are declining as access to treatment has expanded.

"The total number of people on treatment increased by seven and half times over the last five years with 5.2 million people accessing life-saving drugs in 2009, compared to 700,000 in 2004," said Gilks.

However, nearly twice the number of people -- 10 million -- are still awaiting treatment and countries need to speed up work on AIDS prevention.

IANS

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