This AIDS day, talk of universal access and human rights (Dec 1 is World AIDS Day)

December 1st, 2010 - 4:19 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Dec 1 (IANS) With ‘universal access and human rights’ the theme for World AIDS Day this year, the focus of the Indian government is on increasing diagnosis and treatment facility.

“Increasing the reach of diagnosis and treatment facility to the affected is on the fore of the policy,” said an official of the National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO), a division of the health and family welfare ministry that provides leadership to HIV/AIDS control programme in India through 35 HIV/AIDS Prevention and Control Societies.

“NACO is pulling up resources. The requirement is huge and we have a number of programmes on our hands,” the official told IANS.

The diagnosis of HIV/AIDS in children and treatment is another major challenge, he said.

“Detection, treatment and counselling for children suffering from HIV/AIDS is another major issue we have taken up for deep consideration. For this, a conference on Paediatric HIV is being conducted Dec 1-3 in the Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital,” the official said.

AIDS programmes in the country are at present being run under the National AIDS Control Programme III, which focuses on spreading awareness about preventive measures and extending treatment facilities.

Condom promotion and distribution has been one of the biggest focus of the programmes, which also lay stress on information dissemination.

One of the biggest initiatives for spreading information is the Red Ribbon Express, which started its journey a year ago to spread awareness about HIV/AIDS and will conclude its trip in the capital Wednesday.

The train visited over 22 states and halted at 152 railway stations covering over 22,000 km across the country, and strove to spread AIDS awareness among people.

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

India is among the countries registering a downfall of nearly 25 percent in the number of HIV/AIDS cases, according to the latest United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) report.

This is in tune with the global figures which show that new HIV infections have fallen by nearly 20 percent in the last 10 years, AIDS-related deaths are down by nearly 20 percent in the last five years and the total number of people living with HIV is stabilising.

However, India is still home to approximately 3.1 million patients, with almost 70,000 of them children.

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