HIV AIDS and related challenges in India

It would not be an exaggeration if HIV AIDS is included in some of the world’s major public health challenges at the present time, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), around 38 million people globally were affected by HIV by the end of 2018. . If we look at the statistics, due to this, around 35 million people have died worldwide. Talking about India, the number of HIV AIDS patients in the country is about 0.26 percent (2.1 million) of the total population. However, it is not the case that no efforts have been made so far to fight it at the national and international level. It is a result of global efforts that in the year 2018, about 62 percent of adults and about 54 percent of children in low and middle income countries were getting HIV AIDS related healthcare facilities.

What is HIV AIDS?

  • Human immunodeficiency virus or HIV is a type of retrovirus that, if not treated properly, can lead to acquired immunodeficiency syndrome or AIDS. AIDS is considered the most severe stage of HIV infection.
  • Significantly, the HIV virus attacks the white blood cell (T-cells) called CD4 in the body’s immune system. These are cells that detect anomalies and infections in other cells of the body.
  • The number of HIV increases after entering the body and in a short time it destroys CD4 cells and severely damages the human immune system. Be aware that once this virus enters the body, it is very difficult to eliminate it completely.
  • There is a significant decrease in CD4 cells of a person infected with HIV. It is known that the number of these cells in the body of a healthy person varies between 500–1600, but the number of CD4 cells in those infected with HIV can go down to less than 200.
  • A weak immune system makes a person vulnerable to various serious diseases such as cancer. It becomes relatively difficult for a person infected with this virus to recover from even minor injury or illness.
  • HIV infection is believed to have originated in the Democratic Republic of Congo around 1920.
  • In 1959, the first known case of HIV was confirmed in a person who died in Congo.
  • It is known from the research conducted on this subject that the virus first arrived in America in 1968.
infected with hiv

Types of HIV

  • There are generally 2 types of HIV:
  • HIV-1
  • HIV-2
  • HIV-1 is considered the predominant type of infection representing the majority of infections worldwide, while HIV-2 has a substantial number of patients and is found mainly in the West and Central African regions.
  • Significantly, both of these types of HIVs can cause AIDS, but the spread of HIV-2 is much harder than HIV-1.

Spread of HIV AIDS

  • HIV-AIDS is usually spread from one person to another through blood, semen, vaginal discharge and mother’s milk, etc.
  • Unprotected sex is considered to be the leading cause of the spread of HIV AIDS. Significantly, according to the data collected by the Mizoram State AIDS Control Society (MCACS), 67.21 percent of the AIDS affected persons found in Mizoram from 2006 to March 2019 were affected due to unprotected sex.
  • Exposure to HIV-infected blood also increases the risk of its spread. However the risk of HIV infection has been reduced to a great extent through blood screening to detect HIV infection.
  • Sharing needles, syringes, or drugs with someone who is infected with the virus may also increase the risk of the disease.
  • The disease can also reach their infants through mothers with HIV virus.

Symptoms of HIV AIDS

  • Several studies have proven that approximately 80 percent of people infected with HIV develop symptoms called Acute Retroviral Syndrome approximately 2–6 weeks after the virus enters the body.
  • Initial symptoms include fever, chills, joint pain, muscle aches, sore throat, enlarged glands, fatigue, weakness, and weight loss.
  • It is important to note that many times a person can suffer from HIV virus without experiencing any symptoms for a long time. During this time the virus develops and damages the immune system.
hiv infection


Antiretroviral therapy

  • Currently, complete cure for HIV AIDS is not possible, although the virus can be controlled through many different drugs. Such treatment is called antiretroviral therapy or ART.
  • Significantly, it is a combination of daily drugs that prevent the virus from breeding.
  • Antiretroviral therapy helps protect CD4 cells, which strengthens the immune system to fight disease.
  • It is also helpful in preventing the spread of HIV.

Stem cell transplant

  • Under a stem cell transplant, there is an attempt to replace unhealthy cells with healthy cells.
  • It is known that only two people have been eradicated from HIV by experts using this method.
  • Researchers believe this method is too complex, expensive, and risky.

HIV-AIDS Globally

  • Since the onset of the epidemic, more than 70 million people have been infected with the HIV virus and around 35 million have died.
  • In 2018, around 770 000 people died and around 1.7 million were infected due to lack of anti-HIV services.
  • It is important to note that the African region is the most affected by HIV and that 1 in every 25 adults is infected with HIV.
  • However, efforts in this context in the last few years have helped in fighting HIV AIDS globally and HIV infection has been reduced by 37 percent between the years 2000 and 2018.
  • Anti-retroviral therapy (ART) has saved 13.6 million lives and has led to a 45 percent drop in HIV-related mortality.
  • In the past, some effective drugs have been discovered in this regard.
  • According to a recent UNAIDS report, 24 million people out of approximately 38 million affected by HIV are receiving ART compared to just 7 million 9 years ago.

HIV-AIDS in India?

  • India’s position in terms of HIV AIDS is quite positive, but still the country needs constant vigilance and committed action.
  • It may be noted that the first case of HIV in India was reported in the year 1986. After this the virus spread quickly across the country and 135 other cases were reported, 14 of which were already affected by AIDS.
  • Currently, 22 out of every 10,000 people are infected with HIV, while the number was around 38 between 2001-03.
  • There are around 21.40 lakh people infected with HIV-AIDS in India and around 87,000 cases of HIV infection are reported every year in the country. Also, 69,000 people die annually from AIDS in the country.
  • There are approximately 8.79 lakh women among the total people affected by HIV AIDS.
  • Mizoram has the highest number of people infected with HIV and 204 out of every 10,000 people are infected with HIV.

Prevention efforts

National AIDS Control Program (NACP)

  • Shortly after reporting the first case of HIV infection in 1986, the Government of India established a National AIDS Control Program (NACP), which has now become the AIDS Department under the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.


  • UNAIDS is working to prevent new HIV infections. In addition, UNAIDS also ensures that all HIV-infected people have access to HIV treatment. UNAIDS is working towards ensuring that by the year 2020, about 30 million people can get treatment. The target 90–90–90 has been set by UNAIDS for this task. According to this goal, by the year 2030 it is to be ensured that 90 per cent of people are able to know their HIV status, 90 per cent of people with positive HIV have access to health facilities, and 90 per cent of those with access to treatment have reduced virus pressure. Can go

SDG 3.3

  • The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted by United Nations (UN) member countries in the year 2015 also set a target to end AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria epidemics by 2030.

HIV and AIDS (Prevention and Control) Act, 2017

  • This law, which came into force from September 2018, seeks to prevent and control the spread of HIV and AIDS in the country. It also acts to end discrimination against persons infected with HIV and AIDS. The Act also provides for providing confidentiality in relation to the treatment of such persons. It also has a provision for redressal mechanism for complaints related to HIV and AIDS.

The challenges

  • Much success has been achieved in the last 20 years in the global fight against AIDS, but in recent years the progress seems to be slowing down.
  • According to statistics, by the end of 2018, 79 percent of all HIV-infected individuals were aware of this fact, only 62 percent had access to treatment services, and only 53 percent of infected people had the virus pressure reduced. Could. In such a situation, it is difficult to achieve 90–90–90 goals.
  • According to the study, there are only 19 countries in the world that can achieve the goal of ending AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria epidemics by the year 2030.
  • In India, we still have not been able to end the social discrimination associated with HIV-AIDS.
  • HIV AIDS has not yet been integrated into the mainstream of public health activities.

The conclusion

Changing the HIV AIDS mentality in Indian society is perhaps the biggest challenge facing policy makers and it needs to be dealt with at the earliest. Emphasis should be placed on prevention and control of infection as well as care and motivation of the infected person.

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