India has reversed the HIV epidemic, with new infections from the Human Immunodeficiency Virus that causes AIDS going down by 55% over the past decade. Globally, new HIV infections fell by 25% in the same period.
“New infections have more than halved in the last 10 years, which indicates that AIDS-control services are working,” said JVR Prasada Rao, former National AIDS Control Organisation chief.
“The absolute numbers of people with HIV are not as strong a barometer as more infected people are on treatment and living longer than they were a decade ago,” said Rao, who was appointed UN special envoy for AIDS in the Asia-Pacific region this week.
India has 2.39 million people living with HIV, down from the peak of 5.7 million in 2006. UNAIDS credits this to both improved data collection methods and a fall in new infections.
“India proved the doomsayers wrong and set the lead in containing infection, but we need to build on this success,” Rao said. According to him, the way forward was to “change the legal environment that criminalises homosexuality and drug use”.