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AIDS numbers for India not an epidemic

The AIDS bugbear did not turn out to be as big and scary as international doomsayers made it out to be. After accusing India of playing down its HIV/AIDS epidemic for years, UNAIDS experts admitted they had got India's AIDS estimates wrong.

india Updated: Dec 31, 2007 17:32 IST

The AIDS bugbear did not turn out to be as big and scary as international doomsayers made it out to be. After accusing India of playing down its HIV/AIDS epidemic for years, UNAIDS experts admitted they had got India's AIDS estimates wrong.

This summer, new data backed by UNAIDS showed there were 2.47 million people with HIV/AIDS in India in 2006, which is less than half of the 2005 estimate of 5.7 million.

This also lowered global estimates - UNAIDS slashed the numbers from 40 million in 2006 to 33 million in 2007.

The revision in data, however, did not prompt the Union Health Ministry to reduce the budget of its Rs 11,585 crore National AIDS Control Programme III, which was launched this year to scale-up prevention, testing and treatment plans over the next five years.

"Mature data coming from across the country shows India has been successful in containing the epidemic. Prevalence, however, over 1 per cent in 104 districts and over 3 per cent in 14 districts, which shows that while our strategies work, we cannot afford to decrease the pressure," said Sujatha Rao, director general, National AIDS Control Organisation.