Hiv continues to be a major global public health concern, having claimed nearly 36 million lives so far. Globally, there are 45.1 million people living with HIV, as per end-2020 estimates. In India, the HIV prevalence trend has declined after peaking in 2020 among adults (15-49 years). At last count, there were, on an average, 2.35 million cases in 2019. Nationally, there were, on an average, 69,000 new HIV infections in 2019. This translates into 190 new infections every day and eight new infections every hour.
There is no cure for HIV infection. Fortunately, HIV infection is entirely preventable through awareness. Therefore, awareness-raising about its occurrence and spread is the master key to protecting the people from this epidemic. The National AIDS Control Program lays maximum emphasis on the widespread reach of information, education and communication on HIV/AIDS prevention, making this the key thrust area.
Awareness-raising brings about positive behavior change. Through this route the program promotes prevention, and aims to reach 80% of the high-risk groups and 95% of young people, and focus on high-risk groups such as commercial sex workers, injecting drug users, and men-who-have-sex-with-men; 12 million highly-vulnerable population (migrants and truckers), and an equally large number of young women and men.
On December 1, 2021, the world will celebrate 33rd World AIDs Day. Since 1988, its celebration marks a reminder of rapid and significant progress in the field of medicine to deal with HIV-AIDS, especially prevention and improving health outcomes across the world. As the world commemorates the thirty-third occasion, it is important to organize a variety of events to raise awareness strongly and regularly for prevention. Equally important will be to inform the affected persons about the symptoms, diagnosis and treatment in the language they understand by their peers.
Dr Sunil Kumar, Director General of Health Services, Union Ministry of Health
It is observed that improving housing and economic conditions of the low-income people with HIV improves the quality of life, and increases the possibility of achieving and maintaining viral suppression. With the ongoing ‘Swachata Abhiyan’ and housing projects along with in-house toilets in every home in villages, India is set to achieve important targets related to quality of life and achieving and maintaining the viral suppression.
Also, India needs to continue to invest in eliminating the stigma associated with this disease. We, as a nation, have made significant progress in this direction, and will achieve a sea change with Jan-Andolan and roping in famous public faces from all fields, which will yield dividends that the country eagerly awaits. I see this as a key strategy in improving the percentage of people who shall move from suspicion to testing and testing to treatment.
Let us pledge to fill the lives of people living with HIV-AIDS with “smiles and acceptance”, rather than stigma and distancing.
Country Director India UNAIDS
This World AIDS Day, UNAIDS will highlight the urgent need to end the inequalities that drive AIDS and other pandemics around the world. Forty years since the first AIDS cases were reported, HIV still threatens the world. Increasing access to HIV awareness and prevention services will be essential if we are to get ahead of the HIV epidemic, and end AIDS as a public health threat by 2030. A people-centric approach is the key. Where public health systems engage community-led networks and organizations, and empower the most-affected people, they are more successful at countering disinformation, ensuring the continuity of health services, and protecting the rights and livelihoods of the most vulnerable. To get the AIDS response back on track, full engagement of this community-led infrastructure must become universal.
Dr. Himanta Biswa Sarma
Chief Minister Assam
"Awareness is key to our fight against HIV/AIDS, and we need to keep our focus on adolescents and youngsters. The state of Assam is making all efforts to educate young population to prevent its spread. On World AIDS Day, we reiterate our commitment to continue working towards eliminating this scourge."