The AIDS epidemic in India is not hidden anymore. We know for a fact that now our villages too are affected by the scourge. As per the U.N. AIDS Programme India, at the end of 2013 had the third-largest number of people living with HIV in the world. This accounts for over half of the AIDS-related deaths in the Asia-Pacific region. It is time we sat up to take stock of the situation.
Today December 1, is observed as World AIDS Day. We in India, have managed to create awareness and made strident efforts towards combating the dreaded disease. We have involved local governments, NGOs, educational institutions, schools and the civil society to get support for the cause. And it has been with all such support that we have been able to reach out to the people.
Nearly 9 lakh Indians are dependent on ART drugs to lead relatively healthy lives. Affected people start therapy with required medicines that are needed to be taken daily as per proper adherence. Failing this the drugs rapidly become ineffective. Once this happens they then have to switch to a second line of treatment which is five-times more expensive than first-line drugs.
Even for the first line medication urgent intervention are needed to ensure that people living with HIV and AIDS get these life-saving anti retroviral Therapy drugs. While being able to get the drugs remains a major area of concern, it is the long-pending HIV Bill that’s needs to be passed by the Indian Parliament is also a grave area of concern. The Bill drafted in 2006 aims to protect the rights of people infected and affected by HIV. It would hopefully provide protection of HIV-positive people and their family members from stigma and discrimination.
It is therefore very imperative that the decision makers agree to pass the HIV and AIDS (Prevention and Control) Bill 2014. All along stakeholders have been focusing on spreading awareness about access to drugs as well as diagnostics for People Living with HIV. Positive public support has also been acquired for resolving this issue. HIV is now long past been a medical problem. It now cuts across social, economic, psychological, medical parameters to move into the domain of human rights.
The HIV bill provides protection against human rights violations and since having been tabled in the Rajya Sabha (Upper House) of Parliament, has now to be passed as law. Experts urge that the government should urgently pass the HIV and AIDS Prevention and Control Bill 2014 as soon as possible to provide drugs and diagnostic services for free to those who are affected. According to the United Nation’s, India has around 2.2 million people being affected by HIV AIDS.