India AIDS Cases Due to Drop, Spending Up
July 2, 2007
India will launch its next phase of HIV/AIDS prevention on Friday, pouring nearly $3 billion, about a third from foreign donors, into the effort. The money represents a six-fold increase in spending to reduce infection rates over the next five years.
Previous estimates from India's National AIDS Control Organization (NACO) have put the country's HIV caseload at 5.2 million, while UNAIDS in 2006 estimated 5.7 million cases. Sujatha Rao, NACO's chief, said new numbers soon to be released will represent a decline in cases. "There will certainly be a decline but it has to be understood in the correct context, with the correct reading," Rao said.
Dennis Broun, country director for UNAIDS India, said, "When UNAIDS gave the estimate of 5.7 million in India, we said it could be as low as 3.4 million and as high as nine. That is a very broad range." "Most probably the figures will be lower than we thought," Broun noted.
Local media reports put the new estimate at around 3.5 million. Officials said the decline could be attributed to better data available this year.
Broun said there are more testing sites where samples are taken from high- and low-risk people for use as markers. There were more than 1,100 testing sites used this year, as opposed to 700 in the past, according to NACO epidemiologist Ajay Kumar Khera. He said the north had been under-represented before, skewing nationwide estimates toward southern states with higher infection rates. In addition, a population health survey randomly tested adults between December 2005 and August 2006.
Rao said India would not alter its prevention plans in the event of a sharply lower case count. "Numbers don't matter," Rao said.
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This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.