New HIV infections down by 20 per cent in India: UN
United Nations: India has been able to achieve a more than 20 per cent decline in new HIV infections between 2000 and 2014, reversing the spread of the virus, according to a UN report that says the world is on track to end the AIDS epidemic by 2030.
According to the report titled "How AIDS changed everything - MDG 6: 15 years, 15 lesson of hope from the AIDS response", the world has exceeded the targets contained in the Millennium Development Goals (MGD) to halt and reverse the spread of HIV.
New HIV infections have fallen by 35 per cent and AIDS-related deaths by 41 per cent, while the global response to HIV has averted 30 million new infections and nearly 8 million AIDS-related deaths since 2000, when the MDGs were set said the report that was released in Addis Ababa yesterday by the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS).
"The measure of success for the United Nations is not what we promise, but what we deliver for those who need us most. When it comes to halting and beginning to reverse the AIDS epidemic, the world has delivered," UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said following the report's launch.
Ban said 15 million people on HIV treatment meant that the world was on its way to an AIDS-free generation. It also means that nearly 75 per cent of all pregnant women living with HIV have access to antiretroviral medicines that improve the quality of their lives and protect their children from HIV, he said.
The report noted that India "literally" changed the course of its national HIV epidemic through the use of strategic information that guided its focus to the locations and population approach. "This placed communities at the centre of the response through the engagement of non-state actors and centrally managed policy and donor coordination," it said.
HIV treatment coverage for people living with HIV and TB has also increased and in terms of numbers of patients, the largest increases in antiretroviral therapy among people living with both HIV and TB have occurred in India, South Africa, Tanzania and Zambia. India accounts for more than 60 per cent of the Asia Pacific region's people living with HIV-associated TB.
The report noted that currently nearly 85 per cent of the antiretroviral medicines for HIV treatment come from India. It said the Indian government had also succeeded in preserving the legislative and policy spaces that permit Indian companies that make generic medicines to consolidate their exporting capacities to other developing countries.
Currently, however, India is under pressure from several companies and governments of developed countries to dilute these provisions in free-trade agreements being negotiated with them, it said. According to the report, India had among the highest new HIV infections in Asia Pacific in 2014 and the HIV prevention efforts need to be strengthened across the region.
The number of new HIV infections in Asia and the Pacific rose by 3 per cent between 2010 and 2014. China, India and Indonesia account for 78 per cent of new HIV infections in the region in 2014. An estimated 340,000 people in Asia and the Pacific were newly infected with HIV in 2014.
This represents a 31 per cent decline in new HIV infections from 2000 to 2014, it said, adding that in India, HIV prevalence among female sex workers dropped from 10.3 per cent in 2001 to 2.7 per cent in 2010. India also reported an increase in domestic spending on AIDS from 73 million dollars in 2010 to 164 million dollars in 2014.
The report also noted some "failures" in the fight to eliminate AIDS. "In India, the Delhi High Court read down an old colonial-era law on sodomy and decriminalized adult consensual sex, but the Supreme Court overruled the decision and is hearing an appeal against its own order," it said.
"The report demonstrates that the response to HIV has been one of the smartest investments in global health and development, generating measurable results for people and economies," UNAIDS said. "It also shows that the world is on track to meet the investment target of USD 22 billion for the AIDS response by 2015 and that concerted action over the next five years can end the AIDS epidemic by 2030," it said.