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India leads HIV headcount

India has overtaken South Africa in HIV infections, says a UNAIDS report.

india Updated: May 31, 2006 04:35 IST

India has overtaken South Africa in the number of people infected with HIV, a United Nations report on HIV released on Tuesday said.

The world's second-most populous nation has overtaken South Africa as the country with the most people living with the HIV virus. India is home to about 5.7 million cases as against about 5.5 million people infected in South Africa, the specialised agency UNAIDS said.

The '2006 Report on the Global AIDS Epidemic' was on Tuesday released in Geneva.

While select countries have reached key targets, Indian subcontinent has been a cause of concern in the global AIDS epidemic control programme. It accounts for two-thirds of HIV cases in the whole of Asia, it said.

About 5.7 million people in the country were infected with the deadly virus by the end of 2005, while the figures in South Africa stand at about 5.5 million, the Geneva-based body said in its biennial study of the global epidemic.

South Africa, however, remains the hardest-hit continent and has highest infection rates per capita, it said adding penetration there is much deeper as 18.8 per cent adults were living with HIV as compared to 0.9 per cent in India.

Important progress has been made since 2001 special session, yet there is extraordinary diversity in the response to HIV between countries and regions.

HIV prevalence has been declining in four states, including Tamil Nadu, where prevention efforts were scaled up in the late 1990s, the report said.