INDIA’S SUCCESS STORY OF A STRONG RESPONSE TO HIV/AIDS CONTINUES

Millennium Development Goal of halting and reversing the epidemic of HIV/AIDS has been achieved as new HIV infections declined by 66% while AIDS-related deaths by 54% between 2007 and 2015. This trend in the decline of HIV/AIDS cases continues till date.

4.5 lakh AIDS related deaths averted

The 2015 HIV estimates reaffirm the sustained declining trend in HIV prevalence and in new HIV infections at the national level in India. While HIV prevalence has overall declined from 0.37% in 2000 through 0.34% in 2007 and to 0.26% in 2015, new infections in the same period have decreased by 66% to 86,000 in 2015. Rapid scale up of Antiretroviral Therapy (ART) has a very significant impact in producing a drop in AIDS-related deaths by 54% from 2007 to 2015.

Stronger models used to produce estimates and more comprehensive data

The estimates were developed under the leadership of the National Institute of Medical Sciences (NIMS)-ICMR with support from experts from AIIMS, NIHFW, UNAIDS, WHO and CDC.

Results of 2015 HIV Estimations

HIV Prevalence

HIV prevalence among adults aged 15-49 years is estimated to have fallen from 0.34% to 0.26% in 2007-2015. Currently adult prevalence is 0.30% among males, and 0.22% among females. Adult prevalence varies significantly across the country.

People Living with HIV (PLHIV)

Nationally, 21.17 lakhs (range of 17.11 lakhs-26.49 lakhs) people were living with HIV at the end of 2015. Among these, around 40% were females, while children (<15 years) accounted for 6.5%./p>

Annual New HIV Infections

While 2.51 lakh new HIV cases occurred in 2000 and 1.28 lakh in 2007, a further drop was reported with only 0.86 lakh cases in 2015, and the decline continues till date. However, the rate of decrease is slowing down in recent years. New HIV infections during 2007-15 fell faster in children (51%) than in adults (29%).
Annual new HIV infections steadily decreased at the National level since the HIV epidemic’s peak in 2000-2001. While HIV infections continue to decline in most states including high HIV burden states, such as Andhra Pradesh & Telangana, Karnataka and Maharashtra, there is a rise in new infections in some states like Assam, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Tripura and Uttar Pradesh.

AIDS-related Deaths

Deaths related to AIDS, according to new improved modelling taking higher survival into account, have declined in the 2007-2015 period from 1.51 lakh to 0.67 lakh. The decrease can largely be attributed to the exponential expansion of ART with its coverage growing at a national scale from 1.35 lakh in 2007 to 8.52 in 2014. Overall AIDS-related deaths in India have declined by 54% since 2007.

Acknowledge achievement of Millenium Development Goal 6 (MDG6), Gear up to End AIDS

The HIV Estimation 2015 showed that India has been successful in achieving the MDG 6 goal of halting and reversing the HIV epidemic by 2015. The fact that new infections have declined by 66% from 2000 to 2015, and AIDS-related deaths fallen by 54% from 2007 to 2015, is a concrete proof that India has delivered on its global commitment in achieving MDG 6.
While India’s success story continues, the current estimates highlight key challenges that will need to be addressed with urgency as the programme moves ahead to achieve NACP IV goals in the short term, the 90-90-90 targets in the intermediate term, and to end the AIDS epidemic in the longer term. The slow-down identified in the rate of decrease of new HIV infections in last few years is a key issue, while scope of improvements in ART coverage exists. It is therefore imperative to go beyond consolidating past gains and reinvigorate the inclusive national response in collaboration with all stakeholders, including development partners and civil society, to fast track progress towards commonly agreed targets and goals in order to eliminate the epidemic.

Summary:
  • HIV/AIDS cases have more than halved in India over the last 2 decades, through a concerted effort of clinicians, NGOs, regulators and patient welfare groups
  • This is a great success story that has emerged from the healthcare domain in India and is emulative
  • The “Test and Treat” approach adopted by India, in handling HIV/AIDS has gone a long way in reducing the burden of HIV/AIDS and shows great promise to #UnburdenHealthcare

Source: Press Information Bureau Government of India Ministry of Health and Family Welfare

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