AIDS- Is it someone else’s problem?

Posted on May 18, 2010 in Society

Tarusha Mittal:

A recent survey said that 72% of married females have no idea about condoms and contraceptive pills, if that’s not enough of a shocker, then there’s this which will make you sit up and look in wonder: A report says India has an estimated 2.5 million people living with HIV/AIDS, which is about 2.7 million fewer cases than previously estimated. Pointing out that India is now the third worst affected country with the deadly disease after South Africa which has 5.5 million and Nigeria with 2.9 million, the report went on to add that the prevalence of HIV in the general population is now 0.36 per cent against 0.9 per cent earlier. Till now, India was in second place with an estimated 5.2 million cases.

Meanwhile, the Union Health Ministry launched the ambitious Rs 11,585 crore National AIDS Control Programme III, under which the National Aids Control Organization (NACO) hopes to halt and reverse the tide of HIV epidemic in India by 2011. At the event, Ex-Union Minister A .Ramadoss made it a point to reiterate that reliable data has proved that India’s actual HIV burden among the adult population is between 2 million to 3.1 million.

In India, as elsewhere, AIDS is often seen as “someone else’s problem” — as something that affects people living on the margins of society, whose lifestyles are considered immoral. Even as it moves into the general population, the HIV epidemic is still misunderstood among the Indian public. People living with HIV have faced violent attacks, been rejected by families, spouses and communities, been refused medical treatment, and even, in some reported cases, denied the last rites before they die.

As well as adding to the suffering of people living with HIV, this discrimination is hindering efforts to prevent new infections. While such strong reactions to HIV and AIDS exist, it is difficult to educate people about how they can avoid infection. AIDS outreach workers and peer-educators have reported harassment, and in schools, teachers sometimes face negative reactions from the parents of children that they teach about AIDS.

It is a sad irony that India is one of the biggest producers of the drugs that have transformed the lives of people with AIDS in wealthy countries. But for millions of Indians, access to these medicines is a distant dream” Joanne Csete, Director of the HIV/AIDS programme at Human Rights Watch.

India is a major provider of cheap generic copies of ARVs to countries all over the world. However, the large scale of India’s epidemic, the diversity of its spread, and the country’s lack of finances and resources continue to present barriers to India’s antitretroviral treatment programme.

There has been a recent excitement over new AIDS treatment pills. It supposed slows down the AIDS virus in such a tremendous pace that patients find themselves going past their thirties with all their body parts intact. It is uplifting to know that finally, science has caught on with one of society’s deadliest diseases. It is also concerting to know that there is continuous research to further combat the virus. At the pace the medical industry is going, it will not be a surprise to know that in the future, AIDS would have been a curable disease. Everyone knows enough has died in its name. For sure the new AIDS therapy will give hope to the many who has mourned their days to AIDS. The pills can be purchased in hospitals in sets, it cost an arm and a leg so best to have it covered by insurance.

It is an up-hill task and we have a long way to go.