Thursday, June 01, 2006

India 'has most people with HIV'

India now has more people living with HIV than any other country, a UNAids report has revealed. The report shows that India now accounts for two-thirds of HIV cases in the whole of Asia. An estimated 5.7 million Indians were infected by the end of 2005, overtaking the 5.5 million cases estimated in South Africa.

However, While 18.8% of South African adults were living with HIV, the figure in India was 0.9%. Estimates of total deaths in India since Aids was first identified in 1981 range from 270,000 to 680,000. Most of the infections there were caused by unprotected heterosexual intercourse, according to UNAids.

States in southern India have traditionally been the hardest hit by the disease. A study of prostitutes in Tamil Nadu found 50% had been infected with HIV. However, UNAids said these regions had made progress in combating the spread of infection. In contrast, little or no progress had been made in cutting infection rates in the north of the country, where injecting drug use is thought to be the main driver of infection.

The UN agency estimates that only 7% of Indians who needed antiretroviral drug therapy actually received it last year. In addition, only 1.6% of pregnant women who needed treatment to prevent mother-to-child HIV transmission were receiving it. UNAids also sounded a warning about neighbouring Pakistan, where around 85,000 people were estimated to be infected with HIV by the end of 2005.

It said the country would have to improve its prevention efforts if it is to avoid a more serious situation.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/05/30 15:02:54 GMT

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