Nearly half of HIV-affected in India are women

Two-fifth of the HIV-affected people in India are women
Around 87,580 new HIV infections and 69,110 AIDS-related deaths occurred last year.

India had an estimated 21.40 lakh people living with HIV in 2017, with slightly more than two-fifth of them being women, the National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO) said on Friday.

It said the annual new HIV infection cases have declined by more than 60 per cent since 2000, but the rate of decline between 2010 and 2017 have been 27 per cent, far behind the pace needed to reach the 2020 target of 75 per cent reduction in new cases of infection.

Around 87,580 new HIV infections and 69,110 AIDS-related deaths occurred last year, the HIV Estimations 2017 report stated.

"The results of the 2017 round of HIV Estimates confirm the national declining trend in new HIV infections and AIDS-related deaths corroborating India's success story in curbing the epidemic," the report stated, but stressed that there is "no place for complacency" as new HIV infections are "stable to rising" in some locations.

"Between 2010 and 2017, new infections have declined only by 27 per cent. While this is better than the global average of 16 per cent, a new impetus is clearly needed to fast track HIV prevention efforts to achieve the 75 per cent reduction in new infections by 2020 against the 2010 baseline," it stated.

The number of new infection cases are declining nationally except for five states - Arunachal Pradesh (65 per cent), Assam (37 per cent), Mizoram (18 per cent), Meghalaya (10 per cent) and Uttarakhand (four per cent) where such cases increased last year in comparison to 2010.

In Chhattisgarh, Delhi, Jammu and Kashmir, Manipur, and Nagaland, the decline has been 10 per cent or less.

Sustained commitment and much more vigorous action are needed to reach the ambitious prevention and treatment targets set for 2020 in view of ending AIDS by 2030, the HIV Estimations 2017 report stated.

Over 190 countries, including India, have pledged to end AIDS by 2030 by adopting the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

As far as adult HIV prevalence in the country is concerned, Mizoram was at the top with 2.04 per cent, followed by Manipur at 1.43 per cent and Nagaland at 1.15 per cent.

Telangana (0.7 per cent), Andhra Pradesh (0.63 per cent) Karnataka (0.47 per cent), Goa (0.42 per cent), Maharashtra (0.33 per cent) and Delhi (0.30 per cent) had higher adult HIV prevalence than the national average last year, the report highlighted.

Jammu and Kashmir had the lowest adult HIV prevalence in the country at 0.03 per cent.

With 3.30 lakh people living with HIV, Maharashtra had the highest number of such cases, contributing 15 per cent of total such population in the country.

Along with Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Telangana, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar contributed almost three-fourth of the total number of people living with HIV in country.

"As HIV incidence continues to be much higher in female sex workers, men who have sex with men, injection drug users and hijra/transgender people, these high-risk groups must continue to be the primary target of HIV prevention efforts," the report stated.

Since 2005, the number of annual AIDS-related deaths have declined by almost 71 per cent.

AIDS-related deaths have dropped across India after attaining a peak in the period from 2005 to 2010, with the exception of Assam, Bihar, Jharkhand, Haryana, Delhi and Uttarakhand.

These are states where the implementation of the ART (antiretroviral therapy) programme needs to be more closely monitored and strengthened.

Mother-to-child transmission of HIV

Another critical target is elimination of mother-to-child transmission of HIV which, the estimations show, was within striking distance in many states and Union Territories with national Prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) coverage of 60 per cent in 2016-17.

However, the major challenges remain and must be urgently addressed, especially in states like Bihar, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh and Telangana where the PMTCT coverage is still significantly lower than the national average, the report by the NACO stated.