Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS) refers to a life-threatening condition caused by the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). The virus damages the immune system and significantly reduces the body’s ability to fight the disease-causing pathogens.

The HIV virus can be transmitted by sexual contact, from an infected mother to a child during pregnancy, childbirth or breastfeeding. The virus may also be transmitted during a blood transfusion. Till date, there is no cure for HIV or AIDS, but there are medications that may help prevent the progression of the disease.

World AIDS Day: A life-long disease that is transmitted by sex, childbirth or infected needles

Around 21,00,000 people were living with HIV in India.

AIDS in India

In the year 1986, more than 20,000 cases of AIDS infection were reported worldwide, but there were no such cases reported in India. However, people were concerned about the spread of the virus in India led to and it wasn’t long before the first case of HIV was reported among the sex workers in Chennai, Tamil Nadu. The virus was most likely transmitted due to contact with foreign visitors. After this, HIV screening centres were set up across the country and a large amount of attention was paid to carry out HIV screening in the blood banks.

In the year 1987, a National AIDS control programme was launched in India to co-ordinate national responses. By the end of the 1980s, a rapid spread in the rate of HIV infection was reported among injecting drug users in Mizoram, Manipur and Nagaland. In the 1990s the rate of HIV infection continued to rise and in the year 1992, the National Aids Control Organization (NACO) was set up to formulate policies for HIV treatment and prevention.

The first case of AIDS was reported among sex workers in Chennai.

The first case of AIDS was reported among sex workers in Chennai.

HIV infection is now very common in India, as per UNAIDS around 21,00,000 people were living with HIV in India out of which 88,000 were newly infected and 69,000 people died with illness. As per the report, there has been 56 percent decrease in number of deaths due to AIDS from 2010 to 2017. As per the 2016 data from The World Factbook published by CIA (Central Intelligence Agency), India ranks 80th with a 0.26 percent adult prevalence rate of AIDS.

AIDS treatment in India

There is no cure for HIV/AIDS, but there are many drugs available to control the virus. This treatment is called ART or antiretroviral therapy. All the drugs prescribed for HIV block the virus in a different manner. ART is highly recommended for anyone suffering from HIV infection and even for those suffering from AIDS.

The World Health Organization announced a global policy with guidelines to treat people with HIV in the year 2016. According to it, anyone infected with HIV should begin ART right after the diagnosis. In India, this new HIV policy was launched in the year 2017 by Shri J. P. Nadda, Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare according to which patients will start ART treatment right after diagnosis.

While there is no cure for HIV/AIDS, there are drugs that can help the people suffering with this disease.

While there is no cure for HIV/AIDS, there are drugs that can help the people suffering with this disease.

Receiving a positive diagnosis of a life-threatening infection such as HIV is devastating. The social, emotional and financial consequences of HIV/AIDS make it very difficult for the patient to cope up with the situation. But now, there are many resources and services available for the patients suffering from HIV. The counsellors, healthcare workers and doctors help the patients in coping up the emotional turmoil.

Millions of people are fighting a battle against HIV and there has been a lot of improvement in providing the right treatment for AIDS. We have come a long way and several advancements have been made in the field. In coming years, there is a hope that vaccination against the deadly condition will be formulated and the disease will become curable.

Dr. Binita Priyambada is a senior consultant- Medical Team at

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