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Poor System Spots Only 150 Drug Injectors

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Times of India
13 March 2012
By Radheshyam Jadhav
Pune India
hidden group in pune throws HIV prevention programmes out of gear

Bogged down by a shoddy mechanism, the Pune district AIDS prevention control unit has identified just 150 Injecting Drug Users (IDUs) in a population of over 50 lakh in Pune and Pimpri Chinchwad in the last five years.

Poor System Spots Only 150 Drug Injectors

The unidentified IDU population poses a challenge for the state and centre's AIDS control programmes. Both are spending huge sums to stem HIV, but without authentic and consolidated IDU figures, the programme may not achieve its purpose, officials said.

Hidden IDUs can spread HIV, but can get help at drop-in centres to seek counselling and treatment, but in a diversified population, students and upper class IDUs never go to such government or NGO run centres.

Unlike the attention sex workers get for AIDS control programmes, there was no specific government agency or machinery to focus on IDUs, they added. HIV transmission is high through blood transfer by sharing of infected needles and IDUs can infect their partners by having unprotected sex, thus multiplying the number of HIV patients.

“As of now, we do not have any specific mechanism to identify IDUs in Pune and Pimpri Chinchwad, especially among the student community. The only way to know their numbers is through NGOs,” Sandeep Dhavale, Pune district programme officer of AIDS, said.

The National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO) has insisted on working with IDUs, especially youths, through target intervention projects.

Under its programme-III, Naco estimated the number of IDUs as 1.86 lakh in India. Revised mapping put the number at 1.77 lakh. Of these, the organisation claims to cover 1.36 lakh (76%) IDUs through targeted intervention projects.


Now, Health Insurance Cover For HIV Patients

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Economictimes indiatimes
04 February 2012
By Shilpy Sinha
Mumbai India

Now, people who are HIV positive and those who are vulnerable to the disease like doctors and nurses can look forward to getting insured under health policy.

The Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority has asked all life and general insurance companies to put in place an underwriting policy on health insurance for people suffering from human immunodeficiency virus–infected patients. This is for the first time Irda has issued guidelines on covering this segment. The guideline will be effective from October 2012.

In India nearly 5.7 million people are infected with HIV virus.

In a exposure draft issued today, the regulator said that policy should indicate the eligibility criteria. The regulator said that underwriting policy would address persons who are not yet showing AIDS symptoms but are in stage 1 or 2 of HIV infection. The regulations should comply with the treatment protocols of the medication following a very strict timeline.

The policy should provide clear guidelines on risks that would be denied. In addition, insurers will have to provide details of loadings at different stages of disease.

For insurers are not allowed to reject claims for those who are HIV negative at beginning and subsequently found to be HIV positive. On renewal, insurers can load it accordingly.

Insurers can state HIV or AIDS as critical illness, providing as a rider with a lump sum on becoming HIV positive, cover AIDS death as an insured even under health insurance policy and cover them under group schemes to cater to various segments of population. Companies have to provide comments in 30 days.

Only one insurance company– Chennai–based Star Health and Allied Insurance Company has a policy under group Insurance cover for the HIV positive patients.

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41 Legal Service Clinics For HIV-Hit By Feb

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Deccan Chronicle
30 January 2012
Bengaluru India

The Karnataka State AIDS Prevention Society (KSAPS) will establish legal services clinics in 41 ART (anti-retroviral therapy) centres across the State to provide free legal services to people living with HIV (PLHIV). KSAPS is launching this initiative in collaboration with the Karnataka State Legal Services Authority (KSLSA). Speaking to Deccan Chronicle, Salma K. Fahim, project director of KSAPS said: “We are planning to make these clinics functional in another one month (by February-end), one each in all the 30 districts and an additional four each in Bengaluru and Belgaum. We had preliminary meetings to discuss the plan of action along with the KSLSA and Karnataka Network of Positive People (KNP+).”

The legal centres are part of KSAPS effort to ensure zero stigma and discrimination against HIV/AIDS affected people. Ms Fahim said that HIV patients are often victims of social discrimination and the clinics — similar to ones set up in Tamil Nadu and Kerala will help them to know their rights.

Two workshops to sensitise lawyers deployed at the legal centres have been held and two more will be held soon. “During the workshops, advocates will be provided with basic facts on HV/AIDS, ethical and legal issues of PLHIV, sensitisation about sex and sexuality of special communities, care of orphans and vulnerable children and social stigma and discrimination against HIV,” Ms Fahim said. The trained advocates will in turn impart training to advocates in their respective districts and taluks and these will form the backbone of the free legal services to be imparted at the 41 ART centres on a weekly or bi-weekly basis.


Migration Spreading HIV Epidemic

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Times of India
13 January 2012
By Kounteya Sinha
New Delhi India
Virus 10 Times Prevalent Among Migrant Than General Population

Migration is fuelling India’s HIV epidemic. National AIDS Control Organization’s (NACO) figures show that besides high–risk population like sex workers and men who have sex with men, the highest burden of HIV is among migrants at 3.6%, which is 10 times than that of the HIV prevalence among the general population.

According to the 2001 Census, 30.1% of the population was considered to have migrated (314 million) – a considerable increase from 27.4% in 1991.

Migration Spreading HIV Epidemic

NACO has identified 75 transit railway stations, where migrants board trains to reach destinations. They have also identified 107 source districts across eight states – Jharkhand, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal, Odisha, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan – that the focus of nationwide anti–HIV fight.

The Red Ribbon Express (RRE), which chugged out of Delhi on Thursday, will focus on testing migrants for HIV besides carrying out counseling and spreading anti–HIV messages. During its year–long journey, the RRE will travel through 23 states, covering 30,000 km and stopping at 162 stations.

A NACO official said, “Migrants are one of the major focus areas for the RRE. Last year, the RRE had stopped at 152 stations and reached out to 8 million people directly. We have identified 122 districts with high outmigration across 11 states that are on priority for starting community–level interventions.“


AIDS Vaccine For Monkeys Raises Hopes For Humans

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Times of India
09 January 2012

Scientists have developed a new vaccine that partially protects monkeys from an infection much similar to HIV, a breakthrough which they say could be a new weapon in the battle against AIDS.

Researchers at the University of Utah School of Medicine found that rhesus monkeys which received the new vaccine were 80 to 83% less likely to get infected with the Simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV), a virus which is closely related to HIV, when exposed to it.

The experimental vaccine was engineered to trigger the monkeys' immune systems to fight the virus. Researchers often study the effects of an SIV vaccine in monkeys as a way to understand how to develop an HIV vaccine in humans.

This is an important step toward an HIV vaccine, said Adam Spivak, an HIV researcher at the university.

“This study demonstrates that the immune system can be prepared to respond to, and partially control, viral infection that mimics HIV-1 transmission in humans,“ Spivak said.


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