|According to India’s National AIDS Control Organization (NACO), the 2006 estimates suggest national adult HIV prevalence in India is approximately 0.36 percent, amounting to between 2 and 3.1 million people. If an average figure is taken, this comes to 2.5 million people living with HIV and AIDS in India.
Globally, nearly 33.2 million people are now estimated to be living with HIV/AIDS.
More men are HIV positive than women. Nationally, the prevalence rate for adult females is 0.29 percent, while for males it is 0.43 percent. This means that for every 100 people living with HIV and AIDS (PLHAs), 61 are men and 39 women. Prevalence is also high in the 15-49 age group (88.7 percent of all infections), indicating that AIDS still threatens the cream of society, those in the prime of their working life.
The northeastern states (Manipur, Mizoram and Nagaland) and the southern states (Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu) have the highest HIV prevalence; moreover, several new areas with high HIV prevalence are detected in other parts of the country.
With a population of more than one billion, low overall prevalence of HIV among the general population of India masks differences among regions, states and sub-populations. The 2006 estimates indicate that the epidemic has stabilized or seen a drop in Tamil Nadu and other southern states with a high HIV burden. Yet, new areas have seen a rise in HIV prevalence, particularly in the northern and eastern regions. Twenty-six districts have been identified with high prevalence, largely in the states of Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Orissa, Rajasthan and Bihar.
Overall, HIV prevalence is higher among urban than rural populations. However, some states have a slightly higher HIV prevalence among rural populations than urban populations, namely, Punjab, Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh.
If nothing changes, the numbers of people affected by HIV/AIDS in India and around the world will continue to rise. But it doesn’t have to be that way. HIV is preventable. UNAIDS and the World Health Organization estimate as many as two-thirds of the more than 20 million new infections projected to occur globally in next five years could be avoided with increased awareness and prevention efforts.
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