Gays and drug addicts form the high-risk groups among 24 lakh HIV infected people in the country, the government told the Supreme Court on Tuesday.
In its fresh affidavit, the ministry of health and family welfare informed the apex court that around 7.23% of HIV-positive persons were Men who have Sex with Men (MSM). Citing a 2006 report, the affidavit said India had a population of 25 lakh MSM, of which four lakh were at the risk of being HIV-positive.
Various government measures for targeted interventions (TI) within the group have so far reached around 2.7 lakh MSM.
Maximum of HIV-positive MSM have been found in Maharashtra (99,533) followed by Gujarat (47,645), the affidavit stated. Delhi has a population of 28,999 MSMs, while Andhra Pradesh as 43,731 MSMs.Ministry of health made its latest submission before the apex court in an on-going matter where Supreme Court is hearing a bunch of appeals challenging Delhi High Court verdict decriminalising consensual sex between two adults of the same sex.
The ministry’s stand before apex court is similar to the one it took before the high court, which is favouring decriminalising gay sex. According to the ministry, section 377 that treated gay sex as crime was a major roadblock for its HIV programmes since MSMs were scared step out in public for treatment.
As per the positive cases detected at ministry’s integrated counseling and testing centres (ICTC) more than 85% of HIV transmission is through sexual route on account of unprotected multi-partner sex. Therefore, the two distinct groups identified for prevention programs to reduce spread of HIV are Female Sex Workers (FSW) and MSMs.
Giving out figures of the HIV population in the country, the affidavit stated 20 lakh of 63.8 crore were HIV infected in the adult population, aged between 15-49 years.
Andhra Pradesh topped the list in this category with around 4.12 lakh adults being found HIV-positive.
Maharashtra has about 3.24 lakh, Karnataka 2.05 lakh and West Bengal 1.40 lakh HIV-positive adults.