www.iasinsights.in ; www.iasgyaan.com posts Hindu summary about Good news regarding reduction of HIV around the world and India.
A new report from the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) bears good news for the global war against HIV.
What does the report say?
- Between 2010 and 2017, several countries made rapid progress in reducing HIV incidence and getting antiretroviral therapy to patients.
- Today, 3 out of 4 people with HIV know their status, and 21.7 million get treatment.
- The largest reduction in incidence came from Eastern and Southern Africa.
- Asia also made significant progress in terms of reduction in incidence of HIV.
What is the status in India?
- India brought down the number of new cases and deaths by 27% and 56%, respectively, between 2010 and 2017.
- Tuberculosis is the biggest killer of HIV patients across the world. India is now able to treat over 90% of notified TB patients for HIV.
- Social stigma surrounding AIDS-infected people in India, while high, is declining slowly too.
Critical gaps in India’s strategy:
Even as India celebrates such progress, it is important to be mindful of the scale of the challenge. With 2.1 million cases, India is among the largest burden countries in the world.
- Homosexual men, drug-users and sex workers are at the highest risk of HIV.
- There are troubling patterns in the society with respect to social stigma attached to HIV patients. India must find ways to reach such groups.
- The UNAIDS report points out that a country’s laws can legitimise stigma and give licence to the harassment of such groups at the highest risk of HIV. India’s laws it must do more in removing social stigma
- India criminalises several aspects of sex work and Section 377 of the IPC criminalises gay sex. Studies show that fear of prosecution under such laws prevents such groups at high risk of contracting the infection seek screening and treatment. As a result, these groups lag behind average treatment rates.
- Stigma isn’t just social: it frequently means that patients end up having to spend much more money for either insurance or medical treatment simply because of their condition. Some places even simply turn away people with HIV or AIDS.
HIV/AIDS (Prevention and Control) Bill, 2017:
- The Lok Sabha in April 2017 passed the Human Immunodeficiency Virus and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (Prevention and Control) Bill, 2017.
- The Bill seeks to give a legislative framework to existing norms of non-discrimination against people living with HIV/AIDS, most crucially, making it a legally punishable offence to deny such a person health insurance on the ground of the infection.
- Short of changing the law, the Centre can consider targeted interventions.
- Sensitising police personnel and educating female sex workers can greatly reduce arbitrary police raids and arrests.
- The right to health is universal. India must take note of this to ensure that no one is left behind in the fight against HIV.
- India has brought down HIV incidence, but it must do more in removing social stigma.