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HIV Infected 1.2L Indians in ’09

Times of India
24 November 2010
By Kounteya Sinha
New Delhi, India

India Ranks 3rd After South Africa, Nigeria
Around 1.2 lakh Indians got infected with HIV last year, even though the incidence rate of new cases has fallen in the country by over 50% in the last decade. At present, India, which has 2.4 million HIV patients, ranks third after South Africa and Nigeria. However, the country’s HIV prevalence is still low at .31% – from .36% in 2006.

Though seven lakh HIV+ Indians require the life–saving anti–retroviral (ART) drugs, only three lakh have access to the medicine. As far as mother–tochild transmission of HIV is concerned, India recorded 18,000 pediatric HIV births off 65,000 HIV+ mothers. India records 27 million pregnancies a year. These are the latest data from the 2010 AIDS epidemic report–the most comprehensive report on a single disease that was released by UNAIDS on Tuesday.

For the first time, experts say the HIV epidemic is on the wane. At least, 56 countries have either stabilized or achieved significant fall in rates of new HIV infections. "For the first time, we can see the world beginning to truly reverse the AIDS epidemic.

Globally, it had peaked in 1999–2000. In Asia, it had peaked in 2003–04. The biggest problem in India is that too many people don’t know that they are infected with HIV. Every HIV case is preventable and to have 1.2 lakh new infections in India show that we are not doing enough," said Dr Charles Gilks, who heads UNAIDS in India. He added, "It is vital that India focuses on prevention as cost of treatment will continue to increase."

Not only has new HIV infection rate fallen by nearly 20% in the last 10 years to 2.6 million in 2009 (3.1 million people had got infected in 1999), but AIDSrelated deaths have also come down by nearly 20% in the last five years.

In 2009, 1.8 million people died from AIDS–related illnesses, down from 2.1 million in 2004. At the end of 2009, 33.3 million people were estimated to be living with HIV – up marginally from 32.8 million in 2008.

This is largely attributed to the fact that patients could live longer as access to ART increases. In 33 countries, the HIV incidence has fallen by more than 25% between 2001 and 2009–being the only countries from Asia to have achieved this feat.

The Asian epidemic is now largely stable. According to Dr Gilks, an estimated 4.9 million people were living with HIV in 2009, about the same as five years earlier. A resurgent epidemic in the late 1990s (when up to 60,000 people were becoming newly infected annually) has since receded. The adult HIV prevalence was 1.3% in 2009. But, the HIV prevalence has been found increasing in Bangladesh, Pakistan and the Philippines. The number of deaths has also stabilized in Asia, but there are no indications of a decline.

Report Card
  • 33.3 million across the world were living with HIV in 2009
  • One in four AIDS deaths was caused by tuberculosis
  • In 2009, there were 2.6 million new HIV infections, down from 3.1 million in 1999
  • 10 million still don’t have access to ART
  • AIDS–related deaths among children declined from 18,000 in 2004 to 15,000 in 2009– a 15% drop
  • An estimated 3.6 lakh were newly infected with HIV in 2009 in Asia as compared to 4.5 lakh in 2001 AIDS killed
1.8 million globally in 2009
Around 3.7 lakh children were born with HIV in the same year

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