India Should Target HIV Prevention Efforts at High-Risk Groups, Commentary Says
India should focus its HIV prevention efforts at high-risk groups in light of recent data that found the number of people estimated to be living with HIV/AIDS in the country is half of previous estimates, Lalit Dandona and Rakhi Dandona of the Administrative Staff College of India wrote in a commentary published in the Dec. 1 issue of the Lancet, ANI/Cheers News reports (ANI/Cheers News, 12/4).
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, 9/5).
According to the authors, in light of the new estimate, India should target its HIV prevention efforts toward high-risk groups -- including commercial sex workers, injection drug users, mobile populations, people with other sexually transmitted infections and men who have sex with men. Other areas of focus should include counseling, testing, blood transfusion safety and preventing mother-to-child transmission of the virus, the authors wrote.
They also said that it is vital for the public health approach to HIV control in the country to become more scientific. "The establishment of a reliable estimate of HIV burden in India is only an initial step," the authors wrote, adding that what is "needed now is more scientific effort to understand the dynamics of HIV spread in India and the impact of interventions on HIV control" (ANI/Cheers News, 12/4).
The commentary is available online.