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2.6L HIV patients have no access to treatment
Published on 30 Sep. 2010 11:56 PM IST
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Around 3.2 lakh HIV patients in India were on life-saving anti-retroviral therapy (ART) in December 2009 — more than 85,000 patients from the previous year. Be that as it may, 2.6 lakh people are still in dire need of ART.
According to the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) latest report, “Towards Universal Access”, which tracks progress in achieving the 2010 target for HIV prevention, treatment and care; around 5.8 lakh HIV patients required ART in end-2009.
Globally, the HIV epidemic continued to be a real public health challenge as around 33.4 million people are suffering from the lethal disease. In 2008 alone, 2.7 million people were newly infected with the virus.
According to the report, only one-third of HIV patients have been put on ART, and coverage of prevention interventions is largely inadequate.
This year, WHO’s revised guidelines on ART for adults and adolescents, including would-be mothers, said ART would be initiated when CD4 cell counts reach or drop below 350 cells/mm3, irrespective of whether the patients have clinical symptoms. As per this count, though an estimated 11 -14 lakh HIV patients in India need ART, only 23% are receiving the treatment.
The number of pregnant women, who require ART, is pegged at 43,000. But only 21% are covered. Another 30,000-76,000 HIV positive children, too, require ART.
However, there has been a spurt in the number of HIV tests across the world. For instance, 100 countries had tested 67 million people last year.
In 82 countries — for which comparable data was available for 2008 and 2009 — the median number of tests performed per 1,000 people had increased from 41 to 50, respectively. ART coverage, among young adults less than 15 years, has gone up from 22% in 2008 to 28% in 2009.
Even the percentage of HIV positive pregnant women receiving ART to prevent mother-to-child transmission has increased from 45% in 2008 to 53% in 2009. In end-2009, 5.25 million people were receiving ART in low and middle-income countries, including India, which translates to an increase of over 1.2 million people from the previous year.
The report maintains that HIV-related TB remains a cause for concern. In 2008, of the 9.4 million TB cases reported worldwide, an estimated 1.4 million were diagnosed among HIV patients. Though the rate of HIV test and counselling for TB patients is rising, the initiative is insufficient.

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