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India
30 Apr 2017

HIV: Health ministry to formulate seven-year National Strategic Plan

Union Ministry on Health and Family Welfare is planning to formulate a National Strategic Plan to effectively eliminate HIV/AIDS in seven years.

"These seven years will be crucial for ending AIDS", said union minister Nadda, while adding the Ministry has been boosting its efforts to find those estimated to be infected with HIV.

Let us know more on the ministry's strategy to tackle AIDS!

In context

Eliminating HIV/AIDS: India formulates seven year strategy

HIV/AIDS in India

India has the third largest population of HIV positive persons. Relentless efforts on part of the National Aids Control Organization including its anti-AIDS campaign and working of ART centres have drawn praise, reducing India's prevalence of AIDS to 0.26% in 2014.

Steps

What has been done so far?

Government has so far identified 14 lakh out of 20 lakh estimated patients.

The HIV/AIDS Act, which was long overdue was passed this year covering key issues including addressing stigma, non-disclosure of HIV status and opportunistic infection management.

Nadda adds, the government has already established 1600 ART and Link ART sites for providing treatment across the country, averting close to 1.5 lakh deaths.

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On the test and treat policy

"This will be for all men, women, adolescents and children who have been diagnosed as HIV positive. This will improve longevity, quality of life of those infected and will save them from many opportunistic infections, especially TB", said J P Nadda on the policy.

Details

What is being done?

In order to detect those estimated with HIV, government plans to revise testing rules and reach out to communities.

The "Test and Treat Policy for HIV" declared Friday, provides antiretroviral therapy to those identified, irrespective of clinical stage or lymphocyte count.

The Ministry further plans a 90:90:90 strategy, aiming to identify 90% of those infected, treating 90% and further controlling the virus.

Well done India!

Steve Kraus, UNAIDS, Asia-Pacific praised India's commitment to tackling the issue. He noted, "This new policy will bring life-saving treatment within reach for people living with HIV. It will keep individuals, families and communities healthy and ensure India ends the AIDS epidemic by 2030."

It is scary because the government is working blind

Criticism

It is scary because the government is working blind

Analysis of the draft strategy by 'The Hindu' revealed that while more than a million patients are undergoing ART, the government's testing capacity for 2016-2017 was only for 14,341 patients.

Shortage of viral load test kits has led to blind diagnosis, compromising patient health.

The shortage poses serious trouble in the background where policy change can increase the number of new cases each year.

State of affairs

NACO in the strategic plan notes, out of a million people undergoing ART, second line treatment is being administered to 2%. It further recorded a viral load failure of 10% in 10 months. "Lack of equipment affects the last 90," it added.

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