National AIDS Conference opens in SGPGI Lucknow

[हिंदी] The 4th National Conference of AIDS Society of India (ASICON) was inaugurated by Dr RK Sharma, Director, Sanjay Gandhi Post-Graduate Institute of Medical Sciences (SGPGIMS) and Dr Hoosen Coovadia, South Africa and Dr Mark Wainberg, former President, International AIDS Society (IAS) today at the SGPGIMS Convention Centre. Dr Ishwar S Gilada, Chair of ASICON and Secretary General of AIDS Society of India (ASI), Dr JK Maniar, President, ASI and Dr Tapan Dhole, Professor and Head, Department of Microbiology and Co-Chair of ASICON also graced the inauguration.

The 4th ASICON has brought together 15 international medical experts and 70 national medical experts who will be speaking on issues related to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support. More than 150 doctors including those from rural parts of the country have received scholarship support to attend this academic congress on clinical management of HIV and other 500 healthcare providers attending this congress.

According to the National AIDS Control Organization (NACO), co-sponsor of ASICON, India has 23.95 lakh people living with HIV (PLHIV), with 0.25% HIV incidence in women and 0.36% HIV incidence in men. “Because of reduction in new HIV infections and positive consequence of increased antiretroviral therapy (ART), AIDS-associated mortality has declined” said Dr DCS Reddy, former Professor, Community Medicine Department, Banares Hindu University (BHU). Compared to 2005 data, HIV infection rates among injecting drug users (IDUs) and HIV transmission through contaminated blood and blood products have gone up by 2010. In 2005, 1.1% of HIV infection was reported among IDUs, however by 2010, the HIV rate jumped to 5%.

Out of the total estimated PLHIV of 23.95 lakhs, 5% are living in Uttar Pradesh (UP) state compared to 21% in Andhra Pradesh and 17% in Maharashtra states.

The NACO programmes have seen a remarkable scale-up over the past years. In 2007, only 773 targetted interventions were there in India covering 30% of high risk groups (HRGs) such as men who have sex with men (MSM), IDUs and sex workers. By 2011, there are 1473 targetted interventions in India covering 75% of HRG populations, said Dr DCS Reddy.

The rates of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) have gone up too from 2.1% in 2007 to 10.1% in 2011. “Even treatable STIs are seen in alarming numbers in certain pockets” said Dr RR Gangakhedkar, senior Scientist, National AIDS Research Institute (NARI), Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR).

Currently there are 426,000 PLHIV on ART in 2011 compared to 16000 in 2004.

Bobby Ramakant - CNS