India To Conduct Independent Evaluation of National HIV/AIDS Treatment, Prevention Program
Indian Health Minister Anbumani Ramadoss on Thursday said that the country is taking bids for an independent evaluation of its National AIDS Control Organization, the country's HIV/AIDS treatment and prevention program, according to the Indo-Asian News Service, Xinhuanet reports. "We are going in for a reassessment of HIV in our country," Ramadoss said at a conference, adding, "We expect the report by mid-next year. It would help us to re-strategize our program." According to current government estimates, there were about 5.1 million HIV-positive people in India in 2003, compared with 4.58 million in 2002. "Although there is no dramatic upsurge in the spread of HIV infection across the country, these figures are a cause of increasing concern for us," Ramadoss said. The health ministry plans to provide antiretroviral drugs at no cost to 100,000 HIV-positive people in six states with high HIV prevalence, according to Xinhuanet. Eight hospitals in the country currently offer antiretroviral drugs to HIV-positive patients at no cost, but the health ministry plans to expand the program to 25 hospitals by the end of 2004 and hopes to offer treatment in 50 to 100 hospitals by the end of 2005 (Xinhuanet, 11/4). Ramadoss also said that the government is contemplating increasing funding for public health, including the HIV/AIDS program, to 2% to 3% of India's gross domestic product over the next five years (Press Trust of India/Hindu, 11/4).
A kaisernetwork.org video feature on HIV/AIDS in India is available online. The report -- prepared by Fred de Sam Lazaro, also a correspondent for the NewsHour with Jim Lehrer -- includes interviews with people who are on the front lines of India's efforts.