Number of people with HIV infection has halved in India, but more needs to be done

Health Care, Heart Care Foundation of India, Social Health Community Comments Off

Follow the ABC mantra for preventing the infection

New Delhi, 20th April 2018: Recent estimates suggest that the number of people living with HIV in India has more than halved from 5.1 million in 2003 to 2.1 million in 2016. Adult HIV prevalence in India is 0.28%, compared to South Africa’s 18.9%, shows UNAIDS data for 2017.The need of the hour is lower infections in the high-risk groups including transgenders and female sex workers.

India is home to the world’s third-largest HIV population. Some reasons for the decrease in incidence could include intensive HIV prevention campaigns among the most affected; and free testing and treatment under the National AIDS Control Programme (NACP) since 2004.

Speaking about this, Padma Shri Awardee Dr K K Aggarwal, President Heart Care Foundation of India (HCFI),said, “Although the decline in the number of HIV cases is a positive sign, more efforts are required to completely combat the disease by the year 2020, the new deadline. There is a need to create awareness about the fact that everyone with AIDS must be accorded treatment at the right time to help them achieve good health. More mass awareness campaigns, availability of various state-of-the-art medical interventions, and evolving technology can make this possible. WHO recommends innovative HIV-self-testing and partner notification approaches to increase HIV testing services among undiagnosed people.”

90–90–90 is a treatment target to help end the AIDS epidemic. By 2020, 90% of all people living with HIV will know their HIV status; 90% of all people with diagnosed HIV infection will receive sustained antiretroviral therapy and 90% of all people receiving antiretroviral therapy will have viral suppression.

Adding further, Dr Aggarwal, who is also the Vice President of CMAAO, said, “One of the ways to combat HIV infection is to ensure supply of safe and sterile syringes. A major reason for continued prevalence of HIV infection and AIDS is the social stigma that our society associates with the disease. There is an urgent need to remove this stigma and treat those affected by this condition with compassion and understanding. The 25th Perfect Health Mela this year will discuss some of these issues in detail. This also happens to be the Silver Jubilee year of this event.”

Some other facts about this condition.

  • HIV – AIDS is now a chronic manageable disease
  • Hepatis C is now curable, and HIV is near controllable
  • The new mantra is test and treat and not to wait till the disease manifests
  • The treatment is totally free within the government setup
  • Government is thinking of starting home testing of HIV like pregnancy test
  • ABC for safe sex: Abstain, be faithful to your partner and if you cannot, use Condoms.
  • Drinking alcohol or taking drugs interferes with judgment. Even those who understand the risks of AIDS and the importance of safer sex may become careless after drinking or using drugs.
  • People with STIs should seek prompt treatment and avoid sexual intercourse or practice safe sex.
  • Used infected razor blades, knives or tools that cut or pierce the skin also carry some risk of spreading HIV.
  • HIV-positive people may remain asymptomatic but can still pass on the virus to others.

Think of innovative conference gifts

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Flowers, shawls, mementos are generally presented to distinguished faculty and eminent speakers during conferences or other meetings. I personally have a collection of more than 800 of such gifts, which I have kept in my office. However, most people dispose of the gifts after a period of time. Flowers, anyways, last only for few days, depending on the season.

When I was National President Indian Medical Association, I calculated that all the branches of IMA were perhaps spending a huge amount of money on flowers alone to be given at various functions. I decided not to take flowers.

The answer therefore is to look for innovative gifts to give, even as mementos, which the receiver can use. Some of these gifts can be books, emergency kits.

Yesterday, I was invited by Secretary New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) Ms Rashmi Singh IAS to attend a function organized by NDMC. The memento given was a 2 kg fire extinguisher.

I thought it was a good memento and truly appreciated this unique gift. Innovative gifts such as this can be given as a Memento. Not only will the person keep it, it may also save somebodys life.