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India urged to scale up treatment for HIV positive mothers

dnaindia
26 April 2012
New Delhi India

Lauding India's efforts in providing treatment to HIV affected people, UNAIDS on Thursday urged the country to scale up its healthcare services for the benefit of HIV positive mothers and children.

"If we want zero AIDS–related deaths, India needs massive scale up of treatment and care services. By 2015, we need at least 15 million people on treatment world–wide," Charles Gilks, country coordinator for UNAIDS, said.

Gilks was speaking at the summit on good practices, innovations and impact of National AIDS Control Programme–III organised by National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO).

The second day of the three–day Summit brought together experts and community leaders who stressed on concrete strategies that are required to strengthen care, support and treatment in the next phase of the National HIV programme.

"We have an unfinished agenda. Stigma, discrimination and denial faced by HIV positive people is still very high," Aradhana Johri, Additional Secretary, Department of AIDS, said.

While Gilks said India should focus to improve services for pregnant mothers, Mohammed Shaukat, Deputy Director General of NACO, said though the number of Antiretroviral Therapy (ART) centres increased from 107 in 2007 to 355 in 2012, HIV positive people are accessing them at a very late stage.

"It is important for HIV positive people to start ART soon to improve the quality of life," he said.

NACO has directed all ART centres to provide ART for anyone who has a CD4 count of 350 from 250 earlier. The CD4 count determines the immunity levels of a person living with HIV.

Manoj Paradesi, living with HIV for 18 years, said there is an urgent need to listen to voices of the community.

Time has come to make drug dispensing units (ART centres) as complete Health Resource Centres which can provide quality counselling and information to HIV positive people, he said.

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