Editorials

Can India avoid being devastated by HIV?

BMJ 2002; 324 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.324.7331.182 (Published 26 January 2002) Cite this as: BMJ 2002;324:182

Yes, by scaling up local prevention efforts targeted at the most vulnerable groups

  1. S Ramasundaram, joint secretary (ramasundaram@vsnl.com)
  1. Department of Commerce, Government of India, Udyog Bhavan, New Delhi 110011, India

    HIV has reached epidemic proportions in India. Many predict that this nation of one billion people will soon see infection rates soar if current prevention programmes are not scaled up.1 India may be next in line after sub-Saharan Africa to be devastated by the virus.

    The Indian government estimates that in 2000 3.86 million Indians were infected with HIV, the second largest number of infected people after South Africa.2 Although the prevalence of HIV in India may seem relatively low—0.7% of the general adult population compared with rates of 20% and over in South Africa, Zimbabwe, and Botswana—the infection has now been detected in all states and union territories. It is no longer confined to vulnerable groups, such as sex workers and transport workers, or to urban areas.

    If effective prevention efforts are not implemented immediately, and sustained long term, the World Bank warns that India could have 37 million people infected with HIV by the year 2005.3 …

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