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India to avert 3 million HIV cases: World Bank

India is expected to avert 3 million new HIV infections during the period 1995-2015 by using targeted interventions among vulnerable groups, according to a World Bank study.

The study, 'Impact of Targeted Interventions on Heterosexual Transmission of HIV in India', evaluated the impact of targeted interventions among female sex workers in four high prevalent states -- Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu.

The study found a significant decline in HIV prevalence among female sex workers and young women (15-24 years) seeking antenatal care in the high-prevalence southern states.

The drop in prevalence is associated with a significant increase in consistent condom use.

"Among the women seeking antenatal care in districts with high intensity of targeted interventions, HIV prevalence declined by more than 50 percent from 1.9 percent in 2001 to 0.8 percent in 2008, compared with low-intensity districts where the infection rate remained constant at 0.9 percent in both 2001 and 2008," it said.

The study shows the cost-effectiveness of these targeted HIV-prevention interventions for female sex workers and estimates that 3 million HIV infections will be averted by this strategic approach during 1995-2015.

"There has been a tremendous scale-up of prevention and treatment interventions under this program, which has led to an overall reduction in new infections and AIDS-related deaths in India," said Sayan Chatterjee, secretary and director general of National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO).
Since the launch of the NACO in 1991, India has worked in close partnership with the World Bank and other development partners to focus on prevention among vulnerable populations at highest risk of contracting HIV.

"AIDS remains a critical development issue that is reversing decades of human progress. With 34 million people living with HIV, AIDS continues to decimate communities, stymie economic growth, and orphan children," said David Wilson, the Bank's global HIV/AIDS programme director.

The first HIV positive case in India was detected in 1986 in Tamil Nadu. Now there are around 2.5 million HIV-positive people nationwide.

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