Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations
New HIV Cases in India Appear to Show ‘Gradual Decrease’
India recorded 110,000 new cases of HIV infection last year, a drop from the 2000 incidence rate of 160,000 new cases, according to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Reuters Health reports. The new cases, which were recorded last year through the country's HIV Sentinel Surveillance Round 2001, bring the total number of HIV-positive individuals in India to 3.97 million. HIV Sentinel Surveillance -- established in 1994 to monitor HIV infection trends among high- and low-risk groups throughout the country -- gathered information from August to October 2001 at 320 sites across the nation, including 135 STD clinics, 170 prenatal clinics and programs for intravenous drug users and men who have sex with men. Although the number of new cases indicates that the HIV epidemic is "still spreading," the finding that 50,000 fewer new cases were recorded last year than in 2000 suggests a "gradual decrease" in the rate of new HIV infections. "Over a period of time, the new infections may reduce to a negligible number, which is an indicator of a plateauing of the epidemic," the National AIDS Control Organization of India stated, adding that if India implements a "strong and effective" HIV prevention program, infection rates could plateau in "the next three to four years." According to the health ministry, the surveillance sites in states with high HIV prevalence have observed "encouraging" signs that the HIV infection rate is stabilizing. India is currently second only to South Africa in the number of HIV-positive citizens (Kumar, Reuters Health, 3/18).
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