We heartily congratulate you for showing a curiosity about HIV/AIDS. No doubt India needs a great attention and efforts to limit the spread of HIV.

Its a painful fact that two-thirds of HIV /AIDS infections in Asia occur in India only, with an estimated 5.7 million infections (estimated 3.4 – 9.4 million) (0.9% of population), surpassing South Africa’s estimated 5.5 million (4.9–6.1 million) (21.5% of population) infections, making India the country with the highest number of HIV infections in the world . One study predicts that if the AIDS epidemic is not contained, up to 16 million people could be infected by 2016. This would slow the rate of economic growth by up to one percentage point every year.

In India the first case of HIV was reported in 1986 in Madras (a commercial sex worker), then the no of cases boosted to several thousand in the early 1990s and around five million in 2003.

According to UNAIDS estimates, AIDS kills around half a million Indians each year. Universal access to antiretroviral treatment would slash this death rate, but currently only around 50,000 people – 7% of those in need – are receiving the drugs.

India’s treatment access rate of 7% puts it a long way behind other developing countries such as Brazil (83%), Botswana (85%) and Thailand (60%). This is despite the fact that India is a major producer of generic antiretroviral drugs.

Indian Politicians show worrying lack of knowledge on HIV and AIDS

Note – The purpose of this article is to underline the lack of knowledge on HIV and AIDS amongst my Indian brothers and sisters along with our respected representatives with highlighting the urgent need of awareness programs in India.

A survey in India has uncovered worrying levels of ignorance about HIV and AIDS amongst senior Indian parliamentarians.

The “Person–to–Person Advocacy” survey, carried out by the Indian Association of Parliamentarians on Population and Development has left many AIDS organizations in India stunned.

While 76.4 percent of the 250 politicians surveyed were able to correctly identify unprotected sex with multiple partners as a route of transmission, and 79.6 percent knew that sharing needles represented a risk, a massive 64 percent incorrectly thought that sharing clothes with a positive person could give you HIV. 56 percent also thought sharing food and utensils was a risk factor, and 40 percent said that just working with someone with HIV would be enough to pass the virus on. Less than half realized that blood transfusion carried a risk.

The Prime Minister of India, Manmohan Singh, said the survey had collected some “very interesting and provocative material on the perceptions and approach of our elected representatives in a vital area of national policy”.

India has the largest HIV+ population of any country, and stigma and misinformation about the illness abound. Worried that those who are supposed to be leading the fight against HIV and AIDS know so little about it, AIDS groups and politicians are now calling for a major AIDS awareness program to be launched to help tackle ignorance amongst the general public and parliamentarians alike.