India home to half of Asia's Aids patients

India home to half of Asia's Aids patients

About 48 lakh people are living with HIV in Asia in 2010 and nearly half of them—49 per cent to be precise—are in Asia, says the report released on the eve of World Aids Day.

Seven Asian countries report an estimated 100,000 or more people living with HIV in 2009, collectively accounting for more than 90 per cent of people with HIV in the region. India tops the list followed by China, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar and Vietnam, though the highest prevalence rate, 1 per cent, was observed only in Thailand.

Notwithstanding regional variations, the HIV epidemic is being stabilised among female sex workers and traditional risk groups in the six high-prevalence states, including Karnataka. But epidemic is growing across the region, including India, among men who have sex with men.

Among commercial sex workers, regional variations exist. For example, a 2009 survey shows a HIV prevalence of 4.6 per cent among female sex workers in Mumbai and Thane and 24 per cent among street-based sex workers. The prevalence could be as high as 29 per cent among their brothel based counterparts in some districts of Maharashtra.

In Asia, the rate of HIV transmission appears to be slowing down. The estimated 360,000 people who were newly infected with HIV in 2010 were far fewer than the 450,000 estimated for 2001.

There are also evidence that prevention programmes are working in India. A study by the Karnataka Health Promotion Trust shows that prevention programme in Karnataka was associated with a drop in HIV prevalence from 25 per cent to 13 per cent among female sex workers in three districts between 2004 and 2009.
A similar programme brought down the prevalence from 1.4 per cent to 0.8 per cent among young antenatal clinic attendees between 2004 and 2008 in 18 Karnataka districts, found a second KHPT study quoted by the UNAids report.

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