Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) refers to a life-threatening condition caused by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). The virus damages the immune system and significantly reduces the body's ability to fight disease-causing pathogens.
The HIV virus can be transmitted through sexual contact, from an infected mother to a child during pregnancy, childbirth or breastfeeding. The virus can also be transmitted during a blood transfusion. To date, there is no cure for HIV or AIDS, but there are medications that can help prevent the progression of the disease.
AIDS in India
In 1986, more than 20,000 cases of AIDS infection were reported worldwide, but no such cases were reported in India. However, people were concerned about the spread of the virus in India and it was not long before the first case of HIV was reported among sex workers in Chennai, Tamil Nadu. The virus was probably transmitted due to contact with foreign visitors. After this, HIV detection centers were established throughout the country and great attention was paid to carry out HIV detection in blood banks.
In 1987, a national AIDS control program was launched in India to coordinate national responses. In the late 1980s, a rapid spread of the HIV infection rate was reported among injecting drug users in Mizoram, Manipur and Nagaland. In the 1990s, the rate of HIV infection continued to increase and in 1992, the National AIDS Control Organization (NACO) was created to formulate policies for the treatment and prevention of HIV.
HIV infection is now very common in India, according to UNAIDS, about 21,00,000 people live with HIV in India, of which 88,000 were recently infected and 69,000 people died from illness. According to the report, there has been a 56 percent decrease in the number of AIDS deaths between 2010 and 2017. According to the 2016 data from The World Factbook published by the CIA (Central Intelligence Agency), India ranks 80 with an adult prevalence of 0.26 percent AIDS rate.
AIDS treatment in India
There is no cure for HIV / AIDS, but there are many medications available to control the virus. This treatment is called ART or antiretroviral therapy. All prescription drugs for HIV block the virus differently. Antiretroviral treatment is highly recommended for anyone suffering from HIV infection and even for those with AIDS.
The World Health Organization announced a global policy with guidelines for treating people with HIV in 2016. According to this, anyone infected with HIV should start ART immediately after diagnosis. In India, this new HIV policy was launched in 2017 by Shri J. P. Nadda, Minister of Health and Family Welfare of the Union, according to which patients will begin ART treatment just after diagnosis.
Receiving a positive diagnosis of a life-threatening infection such as HIV is devastating. The social, emotional and financial consequences of HIV / AIDS make it very difficult for the patient to cope with the situation. But now, there are many resources and services available for patients suffering from HIV. Counselors, health workers and doctors help patients cope with emotional turmoil.
Millions of people are fighting a battle against HIV and there have been many improvements in providing the right treatment for AIDS. We have come a long way and several advances have been made in the field. In the coming years, there is hope that vaccination against the deadly condition will be formulated and the disease will become curable.
Dr. Binita Priyambada is a senior consultant to the medical team at Docprime.com.
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