An overview of AIDS as a disease in India

By Priya Chetty on January 25, 2012

India has the world’s fourth largest population suffering from AIDS. However, the estimated number of human Immune deficiency virus (HIV) infections. In India has declined drastically in recent years: from 5.5 million in 2005 to below 2.5 million in 2007. These new figures are supported by The World Health Organization and UN AIDS.

Despite being home in the worlds, fourth largest population suffering from AIDS, the AIDS prevalence rate in India is relatively lower. In 2007, India’s AIDS prevalence rate stood at approximately 0.30%- the B9th highest in the world. The spread of HIV in India is primarily restricted to the southern and north eastern regions of the country and India has also been praised for its extensive anti AIDS campaign. The USS2.S billion National AIDS Control Plan III was set up by India in 2007 and received support from UNAIDS.

Unfortunately many of these efforts fell off after the public determined that the disease did not threaten the middle class so much as members of the underclass. The main factors which have contributed to India’s large HIV-infected population are:

  • Tensile labor migration.
  • Low literacy level in certain rural areas resulting in lack of awareness, and
  • Gender disparity

HIV is not spread by casual contact like sneezing, coughing eating or drifting from common utensils, shaking hands, hugging, or using rest-rooms, drinking fountains, swimming pools or hot tubs. Cotton (1997) says that the Government of India has also raised concerns about the rote of intravenous drug use and prostitution in spreading AIDS, especially in north-east India and certain urban pockets.

A recent study published in the British medical journal “The Lancet” reported an approximately 30% decline in HIV infection; among young women aged IS to 24 years attending prenatal clinics in selected southern states of India from 2000 to 2004 where the epidemic is thought to be concentrated. Tries authors cautiously attribute observed declines to increased condom use by men who visit commercial sex workers and cite several pieces of corroborating evidence (Bhave, 1995).

Some efforts have been made to tailor educational literature to those with low literacy levels, mainly through local libraries, as this is the most readily accessible locus of information for interested parties. Increased awareness regarding the disease and citizen’s related rights is in fine with the Universal Declaration on Human Rights.

The vast size of India makes it difficult to examine the effects of HIV on the country as a whole. The majority of states within India have a higher population than most African countries, so a more detailed picture of the crisis can be gained by looking at each state individually.

The HIV prevalence data for most states is established through testing pregnant women at antenatal dinks.


  • Bhave, G.,(1995). “Impact of an intervention on HIV, sexually transmitted diseases, and condom use among sex workers in Bombay, India, Tata Mc Graw Hill, Bombay
  • Cotton D, (1997): The Medical Management of AIDS in Women: Wiley–Lis, New York.


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