23 November 2010
By Teena Thacker
New Delhi, India
In Another indication that India has managed to contain its HIV/AIDS problem, the latest report by UNAIDS says the number of new cases annually has shown a 50 per cent fall from eight years ago. In 2009, 1.2 lakh people acquired the infection, which is half of the 2.4 lakh who got the virus in 2001.
The report says there were an estimated 2.39 million HIV/AIDS victims in India in 2009, which itself is a drop from the estimated numbers of 2.5 million-3.1 million in 2007. This puts India below South Africa and Nigeria in HIV/AIDS list.
Plus, said Prof Charles Gilks, UNAIDS country coordinator, "India is comparatively doing better than the US. If that continues, it may soon fall to the fourth position." The prevalence level of infection in India is now estimated to be around 0.31 per cent of the population, down from 0.36 in 2006-07.
However, cautioning India, Gilks said: "It is doing very well but this is not the time to be complacent. India needs to maintain and accelerate the progress." Globally, in 2009, 2.6 million people contracted the HIV virus that causes AIDS, a decline of 19 per cent over 3.1 million recorded in 2001, said UNAIDS.
In total 33.3 million people were found to be living with HIV compared to 26.2 million in 1999.
"The overall growth of the global AIDS epidemic appears to have stabilised. The annual number of HIV infections has been steadily declining since the late 1990s," says the report.
Among the total number of people infected with HIV in India, 40 per cent (9,26,197) are women. The number of male victims amounts to 14,69,245.
According to the UNAIDS report, 90 per cent of the newly infected got the virus due to unprotected sex. In the Northeast, however, the main mode of contamination is infected needles, shared by two or more drug
users. India trends also show the prevalence rate coming down among women sex workers and rising among men having sex with men.
"The group that is probably at the highest risk is the transgender community," said Ta oufik Bakkali, UNAIDS senior monitoring and evaluation advisor.
The two states that continue to be worst hit are Manipur and Andhra Pradesh. Over 7 lakh HIV patients continue to be without treatment across the country.
"The problem in India is not availability, but many don’t know that they are infected or that the disease has accelerated," said Prof Gilks.
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