India Must Work To Control Spread of HIV in 2007, Gates Foundation Official Says
India in 2007 must work to control the spread of HIV in the country, Ashok Alexander, director of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation's $258 million Indian HIV prevention project Avahan, said Friday in New Delhi, Reuters UK reports. According to Alexander, HIV prevalence has increased in more than 100 districts in India where the Gates Foundation operates, and government efforts to slow the spread of the disease have not been successful. According to UNAIDS India coordinator Denis Broun, the country's HIV prevalence, which is currently estimated at 0.9%, could increase to 3% in five to 10 years in a worst-case situation. "The signs are still ominous," Alexander said, adding, "The huge challenge is scaling up prevention efforts. 2007 is when we need to have this done by." According to Broun, India should aim to have 80% of commercial sex workers using condoms to reduce the number of new HIV cases to below the estimated 400,000 annual AIDS-related deaths in the country. Safer-sex messages from the government and nongovernmental organizations reach about one-quarter of India's sex workers, Broun said. Alexander praised India's new plan to fight HIV/AIDS, which includes spending $2.5 billion on HIV prevention and education programs (Allen, Reuters UK, 11/19).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.