India's HIV epidemic is not yet contained, says a Review in the August issue of The Lancet Infectious Diseases published online today.
Sujata Rao, Director General of the Government of India's National AIDS Control Organization (NACO) and Ashok Alexander, Director of Avahan- the India AIDS Initiative of The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, are calling for full implementation of the planned national response in order to bring the HIV epidemic under control. This should include an increase in HIV prevention measures in high-risk groups, better access to care and treatment services and a commitment to strategic knowledge building. Without these measures the socioeconomic impact of HIV in India would be vast: "The social fallout and the devastation to an already fragile public-health system would be huge, even if AIDS were to affect only a few sections of some states," says Alexander.
Specific factors that influence the Indian epidemic are size, behavioural patterns and disease burdens of high-risk groups such as female sex-workers, men who have sex with men, and injecting drug users. In addition, how such groups interact with the general population and 'bridging populations' such as men who have both male and female sexual partners and clients of sex-workers, needs to be studied. Such interactions generate sub-epidemics in certain Indian states which could increase HIV rates in other relatively HIV free regions of the country.
Avahan-Indian AIDS Initiative
Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
New Delhi, India
+91 11 4100 3100
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