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India ‘has a long way to go’ in the fight to end AIDS by 2030

M Somasekhar Hyderabad | Updated on January 08, 2018 Published on October 05, 2017

AIDS Society of India’s President feels only a limited progress has been made



Experts have flagged concerns over the progress achieved so far to end AIDS by 2030, and suggested a review of the steps taken to strengthen the fight. Governments of over 190 nations, including India, have promised to end AIDS by 2030 by adopting the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

However, the current data and trends of HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) pose serious concerns on whether we are on track to achieve the goal by 2030, said Ishwar Gilada, President of the AIDS Society of India.

“Since India diagnosed its first case in 1986, we have enough scientific evidence to know what are the proven approaches for preventing HIV transmission and caring for people living with HIV (PLHIV) so that they can live normal lives. But is this a reality on the ground? There is no excuse for inaction, lest we may fail to meet promises of ending AIDS.” He was speaking to newspersons on Thursday ahead of the 10th National Conference of ASI (ASICON 2017), which opens in Hyderabad on Friday, with the theme, Action, Science and Innovation for ending AIDS.

No solid progress

He cited the National Health Policy 2017, which promises to “achieve the global target of 90:90:90 for HIV/AIDS by 2020, that is, 90 per cent of all people living with HIV will know their HIV status, 90 per cent of all people diagnosed with HIV infection will receive sustained antiretroviral therapy (ART) and 90 per cent of those receiving ART will have viral suppression”. Despite progress there is a long way ahead of us, if we are to meet these goals, he said.

As of 2016, 67 per cent of PLHIV (21 lakh) know their status; 1.4 million (14 lakh) are diagnosed with HIV and 902,868 PLHIV were on life-saving ART. We have we not reached out to the 33 per cent in the PLHIV category, and less than 50 per cent are on ART, despite WHO and NACO guidelines to “test and treat all”. Less than 65 per cent of PLHIV, who know their status, are receiving ART.

“We cannot become complacent in our efforts, because failing to reach out to each of the estimated PLHIV and putting them on ART threatens to reverse the progress made in fighting AIDS,” said Gilada, who has been engaged in the treatment and management of this disease for nearly three decades.

India had an estimated 86,000 new HIV infections in 2015. Children (less than 15 years) accounted for 12 per cent (10, 400) of total new infections, while the remaining (75,900) new infections were among adults (15+years). The goal to eliminate parent-to-child transmission of HIV by 2020 also mandates the accelerated roll-out of evidence-based measures in India. Countries such as Cuba and Thailand, among others, have already eliminated parent-to-child transmission of HIV.

Partners

The academic partners of ASI include Government of India’s National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO), Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), Medical Council of India, UNAIDS, Association of Physicians of India, Forum of Parliamentarians on HIV & AIDS, People’s Health Organisation (PHO), CAPRISA South Africa, among others. More than 500 medical experts from various clinical and scientific disciplines from across the country and other nations are taking part in ASICON 2017.

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Published on October 05, 2017
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