Initiatives against HIV and AIDS in India

Source: The Hindu

Context: Government has taken several initiatives against HIV and AIDS in India.  There is a reduction in new HIV infections among children and in AIDS-related deaths in India.

Discuss the developments made by India in tackling HIV-related infections and AIDS.

  • According to the National AIDS Control Organization (NACO)/Ministry of Health and Family Welfare with the technical support of UNAIDS show that there has been a 66.1% reduction in new HIV infections among children and a 65.3% reduction in AIDS-related deaths in India over a nine-year period.
    • The number of pregnant women living with HIV has reduced from 31,000 in 2010 to 20,000 in 2019.
  • HIV testing has increased over time and within target range and treatment coverage has also expanded.
  • Under the leadership of NACO, a ‘Fast-Tracking of EMTCT (elimination of mother-to-child transmission) strategy-cum-action plan’ was drawn by June 2019, in the run towards December 2020: the deadline to achieve EMTCT.
    • The plan involved mobilisation and reinforcement of all national, State and partners’ collective efforts in a strategic manner, with district-level focus, and considering latest evidence so that the States/Union Territories and the country as a whole achieve the EMTCT goal.
  • India made important progress in reducing the HIV impact on children through prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV from 2010 to 2019.
    • This was done through education and communication programmes
    • Increased access to HIV services with innovative delivery mechanisms for HIV testing
    • Counselling and care
    • Treatment and follow-ups
  • India made HIV testing for all pregnant women free and HIV treatment is offered the same way countrywide without cost to pregnant mothers living with HIV through the national ‘treat all’ policy.
  • UNICEF has worked with the World Health Organization and NACO to find high burden districts (in terms of density of pregnant women living with HIV) for 2 years.
  • It is a challenge to diagnose 20,000 pregnant women living with HIV in an estimated 30 million pregnancies annually in India.
    • Since 2002 a series of implementation strategies were rolled out so that all pregnant women can access free HIV testing along with other services at pregnancy clinics, and free treatment routines for life to prevent HIV transmission from mothers to babies.
  • National Health Mission made this possible in government health centres and grass-root level workers through village health and nutrition days and other grass-roots events.
    • Using data-driven and decision-making approaches, we are certain that AIDS will no longer be a public health threat for children in India by the end 2030, if not before.
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