Limited international funds for HIV/AIDS projects in India

India may be doing well in its fight to curtail the spread of HIV/AIDS as mentioned in the recent UNAIDS report, it needs to urgently address the issue of limited international funds being allotted for various HIV/AIDS projects in the country.

According to Dr Charles Gilkes, country co-ordinator, UNAIDS, the funds allocation for HIV/AIDS by major donors like World Bank, Global Fund and UK government was not increasing.

 In other words, the budgets were being flat-lined. Hence, there were discussions in the government to synchronise AIDS control plan with the national five-year plan.   

Dr Gilkes said that the prevalence of new infections in India was reduced by 50 per cent in the last one decade. He added that India had set up a comprehensive programme for prevention of HIV by identifying high risk groups and had also set up a national treatment programme.

“However, the challenge remains in identifying when someone should start on the treatment and one’s accessibility to the treatment," he said.

Dr Gilkes added that ignorance and stigma were two of the main reasons for many people to remain elusive from taking a HIV test.

There are three lakh people already on antiretroviral therapy (ART) in the country, however, it should have been seven lakh, he felt.

The funds allocated for the drugs also needed to be increased, he added. Gilkes said that authorities concerned were complacent as programmes were showing good results. "Although, India is doing well, you can't be complacent," he remarked.

Second line of treatment

Admitting that there were not many centres providing second line of ART, Dr Gilkes said that with more centres, the government would have to deal with expensive drugs and the strict protocols to recognise people who required the second line of treatment.

 In about 30 per cent of the HIV patients, the first line of treatment will fail, so there is a need to identify second line of ART. "It is getting better but it's not an ideal situation yet," he said.

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