HIV/AIDS Cases In India About Half Of Previous Estimates

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The number of people estimated to be living with HIV/AIDS in Indiais about 2.47 million, or half of previous estimates, according toUnited Nations-backed government estimates released on Friday, IndianHealth Minister Anbumani Ramadoss announced, Reuters reports (Zaheer, Reuters, 7/6). UNAIDS estimates from 2006 said that there were about 5.7 million people living with HIV/AIDS in India (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 7/3).

Thenew estimate decreases India's HIV prevalence from 0.9% to 0.36%,Ramadoss said. The new estimate was calculated with the assistance ofinternational agencies, such as the United Nations and USAID. According to Reuters,the earlier estimate was based on blood samples taken from pregnantwomen and high-risk groups, such as injection drug users and commercialsex workers. The new estimate was based on a population-based surveythat took blood samples from 102,000 people to determine HIV prevalenceamong the general population. Population-based surveys are "morerepresentative" and yield "more accurate information" for rural areasand for the male population, UNAIDS said.

Ramadoss said thatalthough there are fewer HIV-positive people in the country thanpreviously thought, the "number is still large, ... this is veryworrying for us" (Reuters, 7/6). According to AFP/Yahoo! News,organizations that work to prevent HIV transmission among men who havesex with men, IDUs, sex workers and other high-risk groups willcontinue their prevention efforts despite the lower prevalence estimate(AFP/Yahoo! News, 7/6).

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Gates Foundation, Clinton Foundation To Scale Up HIV Prevention, Treatment Programs in India

In related news, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Clinton Foundationrecently announced plans to scale up HIV prevention and treatmentprograms in India, despite the lower HIV prevalence estimate, the Wall Street Journal reports. According to the Journal,the foundations have said that although HIV prevalence in the countryis lower than previously thought, the virus could become morewidespread.

The Gates Foundation will focus its efforts on HIVprevention, while the Clinton Foundation will focus on expanding accessto antiretroviral drugs. The Clinton Foundation plans to work withIndian pharmaceutical companies to provide access to discountedantiretrovirals. In addition, the Clinton Foundation plans to train150,000 Indian physicians in the diagnosis and treatment of HIV/AIDSand add more than 10,000 Indian children to its treatment program, the Journal reports (Chase, Wall Street Journal, 7/6).

Ramadoss'announcement on Friday coincided with the launch of India's new $2.8billion National AIDS Control Program, which aims to expand access tono-cost antiretrovirals and increase prevention efforts in the country (Reuters, 7/6). The World Bank on Thursday signed a loan agreement with India for $250 million to support NACP during the next five years, The Hindu reports.The loan will be used to scale up prevention programs and to increasecare, support and treatment for people living with HIV/AIDS, accordingto The Hindu (The Hindu, 7/6).

Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view theentire Kaiser DailyHIV/AIDS Report, search the archives, and sign up for email delivery at kaisernetwork.org/email . TheKaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, a free service ofThe Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.

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