AIDS IN INDIA
In India HIV was detected for the first time in 1986 and a national AIDS control programme has been in operation since 1987, with the assistance of the World Bank and other multilateral and bilateral donors. According to reports, there were 3080 AIDS cases and 49,883 HIV positive from all the states and union territories. In Mumbai (Maharashtra) and Tamil Nadu its spread is very rapid. Fifty per cent of sex workers in Mumbai have been detected HIV positive, while 30 per cent of them ‘ AIDS patients. But there is no reliability of the date because of the suspicion of under reporting. Fifty percent of the medical practitioners/doctors ¡1 not conversant in diagnostic process and detection of HIV and thee knowledge is insufficient for the purpose.
According to the Director, National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO), the number of persons living in India with the virus (HIV) should be between 3 to 5 million. As revealed in a survey, 5 to 10 per cent of the truck drivers in the country are HIV positive. India is now supposed to have the largest number of persons than in any other country that are infected with KV-and most of them during the last two years.
In spite of AIDS prevention drives, the use of preventive methods is still an exception and sexually transmitted disease continues to be a major problem in urban as well as in rural areas. According to estimates, 3 to 4 per cent of the rural population is suffering from such diseases. It is quite evident from it that prevention efforts so far have not been effective in slowing the rate of infection.
In a midterm review of the control programme conducted by the World Bank Mission at the end of 1995, it is said that major efforts are made to re-energies it a multiply participative processes. Need for multi-sectoral approaches and mechanism to expedite decision making and technical support in developing and implementation of their specific programmes by the respective states has also been stressed.
UNAIDS not only assists in making programme and implement them but also actively pursues human right protection and especially the rights of the people with HIV/ AIDS and seeks to inter grate them into polidfe and programmes at the national level. The issues of the HIV/ AIDS are also sought to be mainstreamed in the Ninth Five Year Plan. UNAIDS/ India is closely associated with the Human Rights Commission/India regarding implementation of policies and strategy to prevent the disease. It is seeking funds to establish a forum for people living with AIDS to enable them to voice their needs and fight against discrimination.
In 1990, a medium term plan to prevent AIDS with the assistance of World Health Organisation (WHO) was undertaken. This plan was meant to control AIDS/HIV primarily in 4 metropolitan cities of the country and 4 states-namely Maharashtra, Manipur, Tamilnadu and West Bengal. It aimed at covering broad activities to be funded by a credit from the World Bank (IDA) with technical Assistance from WHO. Its ultimate goal was to reduce the impact of AIDS/HIV morbidity and mortality.
With this fund organizational structures at central as well as state levels to strengthen programme management capacity, promotion of public awareness, especially in cities, improving blood safety and its rational use, strengthening the STD clinics, building surveillance and clinical management capacity were intended. Covering different aspects of the problems of control, different UN wings and limbs are actively associated with the Indian anti- AIDS drives. These include WHO, UNESCO, UNDP, UNAIDS, UNFPA.
The main stress of all these organizations is on awareness, effective steps to control AIDS/HIV spread, including clinical facilities and reliance on country’s own medicines. The medicines required for an AIDS patient in US and other western countries is estimated to cost 15,000 a year, which could be brought down to 1,000 per year.
‘Prevention is better than treatment to cure’ is the best-suited strategy in case of India and other developing countries with huge population. And this is what is being stressed by all concerned. The awareness would
certainly grow with time but it should be attempted to be shortest possible with the help of print and electronic media.