Researchers say that since 2010, new HIV infections in India have decreased by 48% and AIDS-related deaths have decreased by 24%.

The first case of Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) in India were reported in 1986. Since then, India has covered a long distance in HIV treatment, prevention and care for patients living with HIV or people at high risk of HIV .

New infections decreased by 65% from 2000 to 2015. But, between 2010 and 2015, while the number of AIDS-related deaths reduced by 54%, there was an increase in the number of people living with HIV infection.

Keeping the concern in mind, the National Strategic Plan (NSP) for HIV/AIDS and STI 2017-2024, aims to achieve the following targets by 2020:

- 75% reduction in new HIV infections

- Elimination of mother-to-child transmission of Syphilis and HIV

- Eradication of discrimination and stigma

- Ensuring that 95% of those who are HIV positive know their status, 95% of those who know their status are undergoing treatment and 95% of those who are undergoing treatment experience effective viral load suppression

In 2017, there were two major achievements that helped in reducing the number of people living with HIV in India

- Enactment of the ‘HIV/AIDS Bill’ as a law protecting the rights of people living with and affected by HIV infection

- Announcement and implementation of the ‘Test and Treat’ policy

The NSP is now giving priority to accelerate HIV prevention in key population and ‘at risk group’.

It wants to initiate quality HIV testing with easy access to comprehensive HIV care.

According to Dr. Bilali Camara, UNAIDS country director in India “India is in need of a national review of its harm-reduction policies to offer substitution therapy for de-addiction to all drug users, and not just injecting drug users since oral users graduate to injecting drugs. India must also decriminalize behaviors, such as drug use and homosexuality, to ensure that harm-reduction services and treatment reach those who need them.”

Let’s hope that India become an AIDS free nation by 2024.