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HIV cases still on rise in India: UN

A significant proportion of infections are occurring in married women infected by husbands, as per the latest report.

india Updated: Nov 21, 2005 23:44 IST

Although levels of HIV prevalence appeared to have stabilised in some states in India, the overall situation continued to be on the rise due to increase in the infection among "at-risk population" in several states, a UN report releasedin New Delhion Monday said.

"Diverse epidemics are underway in India, where an estimated 5.1 million Indians were living with HIV in 2003," the 'AIDS Epidemic Update' brought out by UNAIDS and WHO said.

 UNAIDS Director Peter Piot

Although levels of HIV infection prevalence appear to have stabilised in some states such as Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Maharashtra, it was still on the increase in at-risk population groups in several others, it said adding "as a result, overall HIV prevalence has continued to be on the rise."

However, statewide prevalence among pregnant women was still very low in the poor and densely-populated northern states of UP and Bihar, it said warning even relatively minor increase in transmission could translate into huge numbers.

The report said a significant proportion of new infections were occurring in women who are married but have been infected by husbands who frequented sex workers.

While commercial sex (along with injecting drug use in Nagaland and Tamil Nadu) served as a major driver of the epidemic in most parts of the country, HIV information and awareness among sex workers appeared to be low, especially among those working in the streets, it said.

"Surveys carried out in various parts of India in 2001 found that 30 per cent of street-based sex workers did not know that condoms prevent HIV infection and in some states such as Haryana, fewer than half of all sex workers (brothel and street-based) knew that condoms prevent HIV," it said.

First Published: Nov 21, 2005 20:52 IST