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USA Today Examines India's HIV/AIDS Epidemic, Responses From Government, Nongovernmental Organizations

February 24, 2005

USA Today on Thursday examined India's HIV/AIDS epidemic and efforts by both government and nongovernmental organizations to fight the spread of the virus. Married men who pay for sex with women, have unprotected sex with other men or engage in injection drug use put themselves and their wives at risk of contracting HIV and are "driving up India's contribution to the next wave of global AIDS, now emerging mainly in Asia," according to USA Today. Almost half of all new HIV cases in India are among women, USA Today reports. However, the "prospect that a major AIDS epidemic could flood hospital beds, drain budgets, kill hundreds of millions of Indians and derail economic progress ... deeply worries India's power elite," according to USA Today. The administration of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh "has taken a much more aggressive stance" on HIV/AIDS than the previous government, and nongovernmental organizations -- including the Clinton Foundation and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation -- are helping the government establish HIV/AIDS treatment and prevention programs throughout the country, according to USA Today (Sternberg [1], USA Today, 2/24).

Indian Doctor Matches HIV Singles
USA Today on Thursday also profiled Dr. Suniti Solomon, who in 1986 diagnosed India's first cases of HIV while working in the southern city of Chennai. Solomon in 1993 founded the not-for-profit YRG Centre for AIDS Research and Education, which provides HIV/AIDS testing services and counseling and education programs. She also has established an inpatient unit, an outpatient clinic and one of the top virology labs in India (Sternberg [2], USA Today, 2/24). The Wall Street Journal on Thursday also profiled Solomon, whose latest efforts involve "fusing modern medicine with ancient matchmaking tradition" to introduce HIV-positive men and women for potential marriage. One of her goals is to prevent HIV-positive men from marrying HIV-negative women in order to help stop the spread of HIV in the country. She also counsels HIV-negative women who are married to HIV-positive men about in vitro fertilization and treatments that can reduce the risk of vertical or partner-to-partner HIV transmission (Chase, Wall Street Journal, 2/24).

A interview with Solomon at the July 2004 XV International AIDS Conference is available online.

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