Why India is still struggling to get over this deadly disease?

Why India is still struggling to get over this deadly disease?
Highlights

Why India is Still Struggling to Get Over This Deadly Disease. With a population of 1.2 billion, half of which are adults leading sexually-active lives with limited or no sex-education, contributes to making us one of the reasons for its widespread prevalence.

With a population of 1.2 billion, half of which are adults leading sexually-active lives with limited or no sex-education, contributes to making us one of the reasons for its widespread prevalence. According to a recent report by the UNAIDS, the United Nations program on HIV/AIDS, India is the third highest country to have people living with HIV/AIDS, which means four out of every 10 people carry the virus within them. The report also estimated that India had 2.1 million HIV/AIDS cases by the end of 2013, of which 61 per cent are male, 39 per cent female and five per cent are children.

Who are at risk: HIV is spread rapidly among female sex workers, homosexuals, transgenders and injecting drug users. In India, the prevalence of the virus being transmitted from the mother to the child is also high. According to www.medindia.net, a survey done in 2011-12 gave some alarming statistics on how HIV/AIDS is transmitted among people. It pointed out that HIV positive cases transmitted from mother to child was highest and accounted for around 5 per cent of the total spread of infection, whereas homosexual and bisexual practices contributed for 1.5 per cent. HIV transmission through blood and blood products was 1 percent and infected syringe and needles contributed for another 1.7 per cent. Other unknown modes of transmission contributed to 2.7 per cent.

Current scenario: Even though we haven’t been successful in putting a stop to the deaths claimed by HIV, there has been a substantial decline in the numbers. The UNAIDS report suggests that between the year 2005 to 2013 the number of AIDS-related deaths reduced to 38 per cent in India. It further states that the numbers of new HIV infections have gone down by 19 per cent but the country still accounts for 38 per cent of new acquired HIV infections. Also, women are more prone to acquiring the disease than men in India. The report also pointed out that the prevalence of HIV among female sex workers has dropped from 10.2 per cent to 2.4 per cent; however the numbers have increased in the states of Assam, Bihar and Madhya Pradesh.

Treatment availability: By the end of 2013 it was estimated that there were around 7 lakh people on antiretroviral therapy, the second largest number recorded for a single country. However, the proportion of people who do not have access to antiretroviral treatment in India amounts to around 64 per cent. Studies have shown that early intervention of treatment not only prevents HIV from leading into the deadly AIDS disease, but can also arrest the transmission. Sadly, treatment still doesn’t reach out to the needy, despite all attempts made by the government.

According to the www.worldbank.org, all high prevalence states show a clear declining trend in adult HIV prevalence. HIV has declined notably in Tamil Nadu to reach 0.33 per cent in 2009 from 0.58 per cent in 2007. But other states that were considered low prevalence states like Chandigarh, Orissa, Kerala, Jharkhand, Uttarakhand, Jammu and Kashmir, Arunachal Pradesh and Meghalaya are showing rising trends in adult HIV prevalence in the last four years. However, the decline is also evident in HIV prevalence among young population between 15 to 24 years of age at national level, both among men and women.

Need of the hour: There needs to be some massive awareness to help people dealing with the disease put up the fight with more courage. Moreover, with around 64 per cent infected people going without treatment, steps need to be taken to reach out to the affected to fight this deadly disease effectively.

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