NE India's stats emerged as the new hotspots for HIV

According to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, three states of NE India including Meghalaya, Mizoram and Tripura have emerged as the new hotspots for HIV, despite the fact that a steady decline has been observed in the number of HIV cases in India as a whole.

NE India a new HIV hotspots

According to Health and Family Welfare Ministry, unsafe sexual practices and high-risk behaviour of Injecting Drug Users (IDUs) in NE states of India are main reasons behind emergence of HIV in these states.

HIV prevalence in IDUs from these states is between 33 to 39 per cent, whereas for the rest of the country the prevalence in IDUs is 6.3 per cent.

HIV prevalence among female sex workers of these states is around 24.68 percent whereas for the rest of the country the prevalence in female sex workers is 1.6 per cent.

HIV prevalence among pregnant women visiting ante-natal clinics (ANC) of these states is around 1 percent whereas for the rest of the country the prevalence is 0.28 per cent for pregnant women.

HIV Sentinel Surveillance (HSS)

HIV Sentinel Surveillance (HSS) is a biennial study conducted by the National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO), this is one of the largest regular studies in the world dealing with HIV in high risk groups of the population.

India has one of the world's largest and most robust HIV Sentinel Surveillance System. Tremendous efforts have been made to collect data on the HIV/AIDS epidemic through HIV Sentinel Surveillance.

National AIDS Research Institute (NARI)

National AIDS Research Institute [NARI], a premier Institute devoted to research on HIV infection and AIDS was established in October 1992 in Bhosari, Pune.

The institute has supported the National AIDS Control Programme in an effective manner by providing services like surveillance, capacity building, laboratory services and drug resistance.

The Institute also performed wide ranging National and International Collaborations in multi-disciplinary research on AIDS including virology, immunology, microbiology, clinical research, epidemiology, field based trials and social and behavioral research.

Anti-Retroviral Treatment (ART)

Anti-Retroviral Treatment (ART) are group of medications used in HIV treatment, these medicines does not kill or cure the virus but when taken in combination they can prevent the growth of the virus. When the virus is slowed down, so is HIV disease.

Around 21 lakh people are living with the HIV infection in India, where almost 12.28 lakh people are covered under ART. The target is to bring 90 percent of total 21 lakh affected people under Anti-Retroviral Treatment (ART).

ART (Anti-Retroviral Treatment) has been very effective in suppressing the virus and reducing the transmission of HIV from the infected person.

Way ahead
The discussion on HIV prevalence has to be taken to the affected districts. Prevention and intervention strategies should be formulated for the most affected population with good coverage.

India has a target to "End of AIDS as a public health threat by 2030", while the country has most robust HIV Sentinel Surveillance System and effective Anti-Retroviral Treatment (ART) in place, the concentration should be on encouraging more people to take the HIV test, so that they can be bought under Anti-Retroviral Treatment(ART).

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