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India headed the Thailand way: Wind-Andersen

Dr. Kenneth Wind-Andersen, Country Coordinator, India

india Updated: Dec 10, 2003 19:02 IST

India already has the second largest number of HIV patients in the world, and is poised to have the most within this decade. Dr. Kenneth Wind-Andersen, Country Coordinator, India, responds to questions posed by

Nivedita Mishra

on how UNAIDS meets the challenges.

How different is India from the rest of Southeast Asia in combating AIDS epidemic?

India, unlike some countries of the South-east Asian region, is still considered as a country with a low prevalence of HIV infection which is <1% of the population. However, it does not overlook the fact that pockets of high HIV prevalence do exist in the different states. The epidemic seems to be following the Type 4 pattern, first described in Thailand, where from the initial core group of sex workers and IDUs, it spreads to the bridge population and then to the spouses and children and finally to the adolescents. India, being a large country with a very diverse population requires strategies to address this diversity and the uneven spread of infection in different parts.

Many insist that poverty is main culprit in the developing world, not
HIV. Do you agree?
Poverty is indeed another issue that affects people on a large scale in the developing world. Both HIV and poverty do impact each other. It is well known that HIV transmission is fuelled by poverty and illiteracy. However, it may not be the only reason for increased HIV transmission. Besides poverty we also have various sexual networks, large-scale migration and gender imbalances which increase vulnerability and contribute to the spread of HIV infection.

First Published: Nov 30, 2003 21:36 IST