Focus on states with low AIDS prevalence, high vulnerability: Azad (Second Lead)

December 2nd, 2010 - 12:59 am ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Dec 1 (IANS) As World AIDS Day was observed Dec 1, Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad called for focusing, under the National AIDS Control Programme (NACP), on states with low prevalence of the infection but high vulnerability.

Speaking at the function to mark conclusion of the AIDS awareness train Red Ribbon Express, Azad said the number of HIV cases in India have come down.

“The year 2011 will mark the 30th anniversary of the AIDS epidemic but India is one of the countries which has made significant reduction in new HIV infections especially over the last 10 years. The need for the National AIDS Control Programme (NACP) is to focus more on states with low prevalence, but high vulnerability,” Azad said.

According to latest figures from the National Aids Control Organisation (NACO), adult HIV prevalence has declined from 0.41 percent in 2000 to 0.31 percent in 2009. It is estimated that India had approximately 1.2 lakh new HIV infections in 2009, as against 2.7 lakh in 2000.

The second Red Ribbon Express, after criss-crossing the country, concluded its AIDS awareness journey in the capital Wednesday to mark the World AIDS Day. The government said it is contemplating a third such train with more facilities.

The train, which was flagged off from Delhi Dec 1, 2009, concluded its journey here after visiting 22 states and halting at 152 railway stations, covering over 22,000 km across the country.

Taking a look at the train, Azad said a third Red Ribbon Express may be as beneficial as the previous two, an idea that was echoed by Minister of State Dinesh Trivedi.

In its second phase, the train carried a message of AIDS awareness, as well as other diseases like TB and malaria, provided HIV testing and counselling facilities on board, as well as general health and maternity counselling.

According to health ministry officials, the train has reached over 80 lakh people, and tested and provided counselling to over 35 lakh people.

Meanwhile, a senior NACO official told IANS that the focus for the coming year will be on increasing diagnosis and treatment facility. “Increasing the reach of diagnosis and treatment facility to the affected is on the fore of the policy,” he said.

The NACO provides leadership to HIV/AIDS control programme in India through 35 HIV/AIDS Prevention and Control Societies.

Condom promotion and distribution has been one of the biggest focus of the programmes, which also lays stress on information dissemination. India is home to 2.3 million AIDS patients.

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