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AIDS: Why the pandemic outpaces us

ranked second after South Africa. The numbers game was solved when it was discovered that the figure in the report prepared by UNAIDS includes children below 14 years and adults above 50 years. For unknown reasons, India's National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO) bases its estimates only on the 15-49 years age group.

But the real concern for India is not to confine itself to quibbling over ranking but asking hard questions as to why despite the commitment to halt and reverse one of the most challenging diseases, the pandemic proliferated. Despite some progress in expanding access to HIV prevention and treatment, why has, since UNGASS 2001, there been 32 percent rise in HIV infection in the country? And why have, for example, only 2.74 percent HIV-affected pregnant women received antiretroviral (ARV) therapy, when the UNGASS goal is 20 percent coverage, as a result of which there are thousands of HIV-affected newborns? Why is it that despite the Indian government's promise to provide free ARV drugs to 100,000 people living with HIV/AIDS by the end of 2005 it postponed the target date?

The UN high-level review, instead of a frank analysis and commitment on resources to urgently fill the funding gap of $10 billion to reach universal access to prevention and treatment, came out with a weak declaration. "Three painful drafts later, the irresponsible language being proposed by some countries is bordering on the criminal!" said Aditi Sharma of ActionAid International, who along with other global NGOs, had organised a protest march to the UN headquarters during the meet.

Vulnerable groups such as intravenous drug users, sex workers and gay men have been made invisible in this document. Even the mention of the word "condom' - essential in the prevention of the spread of HIV infection - has disappeared from the UN lexicon. NGOs are also outraged that critical women's rights issues that are central to the goal of halting the pandemic - suc
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TAG: AIDS Why the pandemic outpaces

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