Azad calls for support from ministries, civil society to fight HIV

Civil society calls the move an eyewash; NACO seeks more budgetary allocations by ministries and signing of MoUs before March next year

By Ratnika Sharma
Published: Thursday 20 December 2012

Union health minister Ghulam Nabi Azad has called for the participation and support of various ministries, non-profits and members of civil society in curbing HIV/AIDS to reach the global goal of “Zero New Infections, Zero Stigma and Discrimination and Zero Deaths”.

Attending the valedictory of the two-day Inter-Ministerial Conference for Mainstreaming HIV, Azad said: “With increasing survival of persons living with HIV due to the availability of antiretroviral therapy, the need for ensuring social protection to them and their families is of great importance in the current scenario and will become increasingly so in the times to come.”

On mainstreaming HIV, Aradhana Johri, additional secretary with the department of AIDS control in the Union health ministry, said the National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO) is looking forward to budgetary allocations by ministries and signing of MoUs before March 2013. This collaboration would be a part of the fourth phase of National AIDS Control Programme. This development, however, is nothing new for non-profits like Naz Foundation (India) that has been working for HIV/AIDS and sexual health since 1994. Anjali Gopalan, founder and executive director of the foundation, says that this collaboration has been going on for over 10 years. “What are they (ministries) doing to implement the policies? What is the mechanism? Let them put the money where the mouth is. Fact is that HIV is seen as a burden to them. Please ask them not to waste our time!”

Speaking on the issue, Sayantan Chatterjee, secretary and director general of department of AIDS control, emphasised the need to strengthen the existing schemes and policies and make them accessible to the marginalised sections, especially as it pertains to the stigma attached to HIV. “An apex body is needed to see the effective implementation of schemes for people living with HIV and other minorities,” he added.

Although prevalence of AIDS has come down from 0.33 per cent in 2007 to 0.27 per cent in 2011 in India, the stigma still gnaws away at the social system globally. The estimates from the Global Burden of Disease Study 2010, published in Lancet, confirm that HIV/AIDS remained a leading cause of disease burden and death in 2010. It was ranked 33rd in 1990, but its burden had moved up to fifth by 2004 and remained there in 2010.

But the picture is better in India. According to the Technical Report India HIV Estimates, 2011, done by NACO and NIMS, India has demonstrated an overall reduction of 57 percent in estimated annual new HIV infections among adult population. As many as 2.1 million people were estimated to be living with HIV/AIDS in India in 2011.


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