India’s AIDS numbers fell to 2.3 million in 2007 from 2.47 million in 2006, show provisional data with the National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO). This follows last year’s dramatic halving of India’s HIV population to 2.47 million in 2006 from 5.2 million in 2005, largely because improved methods of data collection showed the infection is not quite a common as feared.
Following similar a drops in number in five other countries — Angola, Kenya, Mozambique, Nigeria, and Zimbabwe — UNAIDS slashed its earlier global estimates from almost 40 million to 33 million in 2006 announced last year.
“Provisional estimates indicate the number of people with HIV in India is currently between 1.8 million and 2.9 million. Adult HIV prevalence dipped further to 0.33 per cent at the end of 2007, down from 0.36 per cent in 2006,” says NACO director general Sujatha Rao.
There is little generalised spread and HIV infection is largely contained within the high-risk groups such as sex workers, men who have sex with men, injecting drug users and people with sexually-transmitted disease, which increases their HIV-risk ten-fold.
But HIV is not beaten yet. Ukhrul district in Manipur is the worst it with 6 per cent adult prevalence, followed by 5.6 per cent in Tuensang in Nagaland, five per cent in Gulbarga in Karnataka.
Other districts with HIV prevalence over 3 per cent are Salem in Tamil Nadu (4.25 per cent), Krishna in Andhra and Chikmagalur in Karmnataka (3.5 per cent each), Namakkal in Tamil Nadu and Sangli in Maharashtra (3.25 per cent), and Chandel and Churachandpur in Manipur (3 per cent).