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World AIDS Day | India must gear up to end HIV/AIDS by 2030: experts

1st December, 2020 Health

Context: The theme of World AIDS Day, to be observed on December 1 is ‘Ending the HIV/AIDS epidemic: resilience and impact.’

  • The method to achieve this by 2030 is to ensure life-saving anti-retroviral therapy reaches all those who are infected and that all persons living with HIV know their status.
  • Aim is to ensure that those on ART are viral suppressed so that infection is negligible.
  • The aim is to make U=U or undetectable = Untransmittable a reality.
  • Experts treating HIV/AIDS are worried that the COVID-19 pandemic has delayed the World Health Organisation’s target to improve the life of people living with HIV (PLHIV).
  • The target date to ensure that 90% of the PLHIV are reached by 2020 has been delayed.
  • The aim of the WHO, to which India is a signatory, was to ensure that 90% of PLHIV know their status, 90% of them are on life-saving anti-retroviral therapy (ART) and 90% of those on ART are virally suppressed, before the end of 2020 (90:90:90 strategy).
  • By 2030, it aimed to make accessible ART to every PLHIV, which in turn reduces the viral load in their blood to undetectable levels.

Present situation:

  • India had 2.35 million people living with HIV. Of this 1.345 million were receiving ART.
  • There were 69,220 new HIV infections and 58,960 AIDS related deaths reported in India in 2019.
  • The 2020 global target is to achieve reduction in new HIV infections and AIDS deaths below 500,000 in a year.
  • But in 2019, we had 1,700,000 newly infected people with HIV and 690,000 AIDS deaths worldwide,” he said, adding that at the end of 2019 globally there were 3.8 crore PLHIV.
  • As per the UNAIDS Report 2020, Asia Pacific region saw a 12% decline in new HIV infections and a 29% decline in AIDS-related deaths over the last decade. But the maximum decline of 66% in new infections was in India,”
  • Globally of the 37.9 million people living with HIV at the end of 2018, 81% had received testing, 67% received treatment; and 59% had achieved suppression of HIV virus with reduced risk of infecting others globally.
  • “In India, 79% of PLHIV were aware of their status and of this 71% were on ART, amounting to only 55% of all PLHIV.

Measures taken:

  • “The 2017 National Health Policy and the UN Sustainable Development Goals aim to end AIDS by 2030”.
  • India adopted the test and treat strategy of the WHO as a national policy to achieve the target of 90:90:90 by 2020.
  • To aspire to scale up HIV care to reach 100% of people living with HIV.
  • With several new antiretroviral molecules and ART combinations now available, treatment as prevention must be a norm. India has the third highest HIV burden with 2.35 million.