NEW DELHI – India has made massive gains in its fight against HIV/AIDS posting significant reductions in HIV prevalence rates, numbers of new annual infections and AIDS related deaths. But pockets of concern remain and among these are Punjab and Chandigarh which have shown rising HIV infection trends with Chandigarh even registering an increase in new annual HIV infections at a time of national decline.
Latest India HIV estimates of the National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO) show that while national HIV prevalence among adults (15 to 49 years) declined from 0. 34% in 2007 to 0.28% in 2015, Punjab and Chandigarh remained exceptions to the trend. In Punjab, HIV adult prevalence rose from 0.15% in 2007 to 0.19% in 2015. Chandigarh reported a similar trend and witnessed increase from 0.18% in 2007 to 0.23% in 2015.
“Declining trends in adult HIV prevalence are sustained in all high prevalence states like Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu and also in others states. But rising trends have been observed in hitherto relatively low prevalence states and UTs of Punjab, Chandigarh, Delhi, Assam, Tripura, Uttarakhand and Jharkhand,” the report says.
India has 21.17 lakh persons living with HIV (PLHIVs) out of which only nine lakh are on antiretroviral therapy.
Chandigarh is among seven states and UTs where yearly new HIV infections rose defying national trends. In Chandigarh, infections rose from 171 in 2007 to 298 in 2015. In Punjab, annual infections fell only marginally (lower than in other states) from 2,537 in 2007 to 2,059 in 2015. “Injecting drug use and migration explain the rising trends in adult HIV prevalence in Punjab and Chandigarh,” Dr BB Rewari, NACO’s National Programme Officer for Antiretroviral therapy, said.