“Life expectancy of people with HIV has increased owing to Anti Retroviral Treatment (ART) but the new drug resistance patterns that are emerging are a cause for concern,” NARI director Dr R S Paranjape told The Indian Express. Ahead of World AIDS Day (December 1) Paranjape said the number of people living with HIV may have stabilised across the country and was unlikely to dip further.
This is mainly because people with HIV now have access to ART and are living longer. “What is of concern is that there is no Indian algorithm for the interpretation of these cases of drug resistance and thus an Indian database was needed, Paranjape explained.
“We are also seeing HIV-associated cancers and till now, not much information is available on this subject. NARI has conducted and completed a study that looks at persons living with HIV and also persons with cancers from the Indian registry. We want to understand how many persons got cancer after being detected with HIV and the results are being evaluated,” Paranjape said.
As per WHO data, HIV prevalence has declined from 0.41 per cent in 2000 and 0.36 per cent in 2006 to 0.31 per cent in 2009 in India. There are an estimated 2.3 million people living with HIV in the country today. Adult HIV prevalence at a national level has declined notably in many states, but variations still exist. “States with a low prevalence of HIV such as Orissa, West Bengal and Gujarat, are showing an increasing trend and the challenge is to deal with newer issues such as containing the HIV infection among the population of migrant workers, men having sex with men, injecting drug users and unorganised sex workers,” Paranjape said.
Between 2011 and 2015, the World AIDS Day theme will be ‘Getting to zero: Zero new HIV infections. Zero discrimination. Zero AIDS related deaths.’ Paranjape, who was officiating NARI director since 1998 before being appointed full-time in 2006, said scientists were more optimistic today about newer treatment for HIV and on new technologies that can help contain the epidemic.