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Global Healthbeat: AIDS in India


The first case of AIDS reported in India was in 1986. Today, 5.7 million people in India are living with HIV/AIDS, and all but 500,000 of those are 15-49 years old. A few global NGO’s are stepping forward to help stem the tide. The Kaiser Family Foundation reports that India, the world’s second most populated country, is at a critical point in this epidemic. HIV could explode, but if large-scale prevention and other interventions are implemented, the expansion could be curtailed.The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation report that multiple issues make the India epidemic unique: multiple local epidemics, high risk behavior groups are dispersed and mobile and an environment of apathy and denial make a publicly coordinated approach to prevention challenging. UNAIDS in India has coordinated an interagency action plan and reports progress in prevention as a result of building a comprehensive, multi-faceted response.

One third of India’s HIV/AIDS cases are women, and the predominant route of transmission in India is via unprotected heterosexual sex.One third of India’s HIV/AIDS victims are under the age of 30. Both the Kaiser Family Foundation and The Gates Foundation’s Avahan Program has partnered with Heroes in Action, a national initiative seeking to decrease the stigma and silence of AIDS and increase education and awareness. Banning HIV positive children from school is just one problem they have reported.

NACO is India’s Ministry of Health Department dedicated to seeing that AIDS victims are treated with dignity and have access to quality care. In 2006, NACO conducted a comprehensive study of tribal people and HIV/AIDS. Nearly ten percent of India’s population are tribal and tribal states lack an adequate health infrastructure. They find that tribal populations are particularly vulnerable due to illiteracy, mobility and women are sexually active at an early age. A Tribal Action Plan has been implemented to increase awareness and understanding of the disease and improve access to health services.

India, with a growing base of middle-class consumers, is increasing its global clout as a business and economic leader, yet it struggles with serious social, environmental and equity problems. HIV/AIDS seems to be one thorny issue the country is getting right , as a study last year reports a decline in new cases in some areas of India.

Thank you Calumar, for use of the photo.
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