About 7,200 People in India Have Died of AIDS-Related Causes Since 1986, Country’s AIDS Director Says
At least 7,200 people in India have died of AIDS-related causes since the country began recording cases in 1986, S.Y. Quraishi, director of the country's National AIDS Control Organization, said on Sunday, Reuters India reports. However, the number likely is an underestimate, primarily because of underreporting. According to NACO data, India recorded 1,114 AIDS-related deaths from 2004 to 2005 and 1,514 deaths from 2003 to 2004. "The cumulative figure is based on anonymous estimates," Quraishi said, adding, "The actual casualty figure could be more, but what happens is that many AIDS deaths are attributed to secondary causes like tuberculosis." He added that many HIV-positive people in India are unaware of their status and that many HIV-positive people do not seek treatment because of a fear of being stigmatized (Mukherjee, Reuters India, 7/10). UNAIDS and the World Health Organization last month asked the Indian government to report the number of people in the country who had died of AIDS-related causes in 2004 but previously had not been recorded as being HIV-positive in order to determine the total number of HIV-positive people living in India that year. The request came in response to NACO data showing that 28,000 new HIV cases were reported in India in 2004, compared with 520,000 new cases in 2003, a nearly 95% decrease. The Indian nongovernmental organizations Institute for Research in Medical Statistics and the National Institute of Health and Family Welfare used UNAIDS and WHO recommendations to collect the data, but some AIDS advocates in the country disagree with the numbers because no nongovernmental organizations that work with HIV-positive people have registered a corresponding drop in new demand for services (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 6/6). UNAIDS estimates that 5.1 million HIV-positive people live in India, and NACO says about 103,000 of those people are living with AIDS (Reuters India, 7/10).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.