“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”.