NACO says HIV/AIDS under control, but numbers and experts disagree

The latest data released by the National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO)  reveals that HIV/AIDS is well under control. The National AIDS Control Programme (NACP) has helped cut estimated new infections by 80 percent since the peak of the epidemic in 1995. Also, AIDS-related deaths decreased by 71 percent since 2005.

The HIV Estimations 2017 show that the number of new HIV infections reached 87,580, which was 86,000 in 2015 and AIDS-related deaths touched 69,110, which were at 67,600. This was when around 22,675 mothers needed Antiretroviral Therapy (ART) to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV in 2017, but in 2015 it was 35,000.

Highlights of the report:

As per the report, in 2017, India had around 21.40 lakh people living with HIV (PLHIV) with the adult prevalence of 0.22%.

Around 87.58 thousand new HIV infections and 69.11 thousand AIDS-related deaths happened in 2017 while around 22,675 mothers needed Antiretroviral Therapy (ART) for prevention of mother to child transmission of HIV.

HIV Estimations 2017 corroborate the previous rounds in terms of the characteristic of the HIV epidemic in India i.e. national prevalence and incidence remain low, but the epidemic is high in some geographical regions and population group.

The rate of decline in annual new HIV infections has been relatively slower in recent years.

The report concludes that, overall, the impact of the programme has been significant with more than 80% decline in estimated new infection from the peak of the epidemic in 1995. Similarly, the estimated AIDS-related death declined by 71% since its peak in 2005.

The objective of HIV Estimations is to provide updated information on the status of HIV epidemic in India at national and State/UT level. Estimations of adult HIV prevalence, annual new infections (HIV incidence), AIDS-related mortality and prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) needs are produced as outcomes of HIV estimations. The modeled estimates are needed because there is no direct reliable way of measuring these core indicators which are used to track the epidemic and monitor and evaluate the response in countries around the world.

The report highlights the significant achievement of National AIDS response on prevention as well as on treatment front but has also indicated that there is no place for complacency as a country move forward on the ambitious goal of attaining the ‘End of AIDS’ by 2030.

About National AIDS Control Organization:

It is a division of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare that provides leadership to HIV/AIDS control programme in India through 35 HIV/AIDS Prevention and Control Societies.

In 1986, following the detection of the first AIDS case in the country, the National AIDS Committee was constituted in the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.

As the epidemic spread, the need was felt for a nationwide programme and an organization to steer the programme. In 1992 India’s first National AIDS Control Programme (1992-1999) was launched, and National AIDS Control Organization (NACO) was constituted to implement the programme.

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