Opportunity For More Effective HIV Prevention Should Not Be Lost

Armen Hareyan's picture

UNAIDS and the World HealthOrganization in2006 estimated that 5.7 million people in India were living with HIV -- a"figure that captured wide attention and raised the possibility that Indiahad more" HIV-positive people "than any other country" -- RobertSteinbrook, a national correspondent for the New England Journal ofMedicine, writes in an NEJM perspective piece. However, thecountry in July 2007 released a revised estimate that 2.5 million people in thecountry are living with HIV, Steinbrook writes, adding that the revision was"so large that it reduced by nearly 10% the estimated number of peopleliving with HIV globally and reinforced ongoing concerns about the validity ofmethods for producing such epidemiologic estimates."

According to Steinbrook, the new estimate indicates that India's HIVepidemic is "less generalized" than previously thought and that"there are greater opportunities to control it." Although the newestimate "changes little" in prevention efforts targeted toward thoseat high risk of the disease -- including injection drug users, commercial sexworkers and their clients, long-distance truck drivers and men who have sexwith men -- it "should now be easier and less costly than was previouslyanticipated to provide treatment," including second-line antiretroviraldrugs, to those in need, according to Steinbrook.

Although the revised estimate is "obviously good news," the"unfortunate reality" is that India's HIV/AIDS epidemic accounts forabout 25% of the estimated 10.7 million people outside sub-Saharan Africa whoare living with the disease, Steinbrook writes, concluding that the"opportunity for better control" of the epidemic and "moreeffective targeting of resources for prevention and treatment should not belost" (Steinbrook, NEJM, 1/10).

Reprintedwith permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view the entire Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, search the archives, and sign upfor email delivery at kaisernetwork.org/email . The Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Reportis published for kaisernetwork.org, a free service of The Henry J. KaiserFamily Foundation.