New Delhi Records Increasing Number of AIDS Cases Despite Decrease in India’s National Estimate, Report Says
Although India recently reduced its HIV/AIDS caseload estimate, the number of AIDS cases in New Delhi has been increasing since 2000, according to a recent Ministry of Health and Family Welfare report, the IANS/Economic Times reports (IANS/Economic Times, 9/2). Indian Health Minister Anbumani Ramadoss in July announced that the number of people estimated to be living with HIV/AIDS in the country is about 2.47 million, or half of previous estimates, according to United Nations-backed government estimates. The new estimate decreases India's HIV prevalence from 0.9% to 0.36%, Ramadoss said. The new estimate was calculated with the assistance of international agencies, such as the United Nations and USAID. The earlier estimate was based on blood samples taken from pregnant women and high-risk groups, such as injection drug users and commercial sex workers. The new estimate was based on a population-based survey that took blood samples from 102,000 people to determine HIV prevalence among the general population (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 7/6).
According to the report, the number of recorded AIDS cases in New Delhi has increased from 498 in 2000 to 5,082 in 2007. In addition, the city recorded 743 new AIDS cases and 97 AIDS-related deaths between January and June, the report said. According to a health ministry official, there are two potential reasons for the increasing number of AIDS cases in New Delhi: the city's mobile population and its antiretroviral treatment program. In addition, the large number of vulnerable groups in the city is contributing to the situation, according to Mahesh Ganesan, a doctor who works with the AIDS Healthcare Foundation. "It's a myth that a large population in Delhi is aware of AIDS," Ganesan said, adding, "Industrial workers and youth remain the main vulnerable sections. Higher prevalence of premarital sex, sometimes in adolescence, also contributes to the numbers."
The national ministry of health recently launched the third phase of India's National AIDS Control Program, which aims to stop and reverse the spread of HIV during the next five years. In reaction to the NACP launch, New Delhi's AIDS Control Society has designed a program to increase HIV/AIDS awareness, according to a state health ministry official. The official added that railway stations, public transportation terminals and shopping areas will be the focus of the program, which involves radio and print advertisements, posters, banners and panel meetings (IANS/Economic Times, 9/2).