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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2679

India home for 60 percent of Asia’s HIV cases

By M Rama Rao - Reporting from India

New Delhi, 28 August (Asiantribune.com): India is home to nearly 60 per cent of the 5.5 million people afflicted with AIDs in Asia, and with in the country, almost 70 per cent of the victims are concentrated in just eight states, latest studies show.

Unprotected commercial sex and injecting drugs are most commonly cited reasons for the severity in magnitude and scope of the HIV in India, though its prevalence varies greatly between and within districts, and even across villages in the same areas, says the World Bank, which studied the phenomenon in great detail to bring into sharp focus the challenges South Asia is facing in curbing the spread of the epidemic.

Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Goa, and Maharashtra have a large percentage of Aids cases. "Sex work is the critical driver of HIV transmission in these states". Northeastern states also have a high concentration of Aids cases particularly in Mizoram, Nagaland, and Manipur; in these states ‘injecting drug use is a major driver of transmission’.

Evidence is growing of significant rural epidemics in parts of India and Nepal, but knowledge is lacking of HIV prevention needs and service delivery patterns in South Asia’s rural settings. "Understanding rural epidemics and configuring an effective response to them constitute a major challenge," according to the World Bank.

The study highlights a home truth in so far India is concerned. "Throughout India, tackling stigma and discrimination toward people engaging in high-risk behaviors and those living with HIV remains vital".

It calls for ‘tailoring’ and ‘applying focused’ strategies to reduce HIV transmission amongst vulnerable segments on a priority
Uneven Development

In another report titled "India Development Policy Review", the World Bank has some interesting findings, which will not please the Union Health Ministry. Even for the medical fraternity as well.

"While India’s economy is booming, its healthcare, education, water, power and transport appears to be deteriorating", it says and adds "India’s full immunization rates have fallen over the past five years".

Other finds are no less uncomplimentary.

A typical doctor at a Primary Health Center in Delhi is less competent than a counter part in Tanzania, and substantially less so than the one in Indonesia.

Almost two-thirds of children in government primary schools cannot read a simple story, and half of them cannot solve simple numerical problems.

While the prosperous states have poverty rates that are comparable with the richer Latin American countries, the poorest states are mired at Sub-Saharan African levels of poverty. And, the gap is growing.

The services sector is booming booms but agricultural productivity is declining constraining the growth of the rural economy –a fact Indian government has conceded on the floor of parliament and is now grappling with the uphill task of reversing the trend.

- Asian Tribune -

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