Geting to ZERO: Long Road Ahead for India's AIDS programme

[हिंदी] [Photo] The CNS documentary film-maker and FM Radio Programme Producer from Chiang Mai, Thailand, Ms Jittima Jantanamalaka, interacted with Lucknow citizens after screening of her documentary film-series on non-communicable diseases (NCDs) and chronic health conditions in Lucknow. Jittima serves as the Managing Director of the JICL Media and Communication Services Company, which also hosts the Citizen News Service (CNS).

One of her documentary films screened in Lucknow was made in Lucknow in Sanjay Gandhi Post-Graduate Institute of Medical Sciences (SGPGIMS) during ASICON 2011, titled “GETTING TO ZERO: LONG ROAD AHEAD FOR INDIA’S AIDS PROGRAMME” (28:30 minutes, English). It makes a poignant statement bringing forth ground realities of AIDS responses in India matched against aspirational targets of “getting to zero new HIV infections, new HIV deaths and HIV-related discrimination” by 2015 of the government and UN agencies.

Unless we address tuberculosis (TB) and HIV co-infection, people living with HIV (PLHIV) will continue to die with TB. TB is the biggest cause of mortality for PLHIV. If we stigmatize, discriminate against or criminalize HIV high risk groups such as injecting drug users, men who have sex with men (MSM) or sex workers, then we will continue to drive the populations that are at an elevated risk of HIV underground and make existing health services inaccessible for them. It is impossible to reach ZERO new HIV infections, ZERO new HIV deaths and ZERO discrimination unless health systems are strengthened enough that no one dies of preventable causes of deaths such as pneumonia, diarrhoea, TB, hepatitis B or C virus, malnutrition, among others.

One of the most shameful failures of National AIDS Control Organization (NACO) has been on preventing HIV transmission from parent to the child. When medicines exist to achieve ZERO new HIV infection in children born to either HIV sero-discordant parents or both PLHIV parents, then why are there more than 18,000 children (2009 data) getting infected with HIV during delivery or postnatal? This is totally unacceptable. Also India continues to provide single dose nevirapine which is an outdated and less effective way to prevent transmission of HIV from parent to child.

Earlier this year, in June 2011, Jittima Jantanamalaka’s film, “Protect public health and social justice in Thailand,” was screened in Sao Paulo, Brazil.