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AIDS Disaster in India is Imminent,,

While concern over the AIDS crisis ravaging sub-Saharan Africa dominates much of the discussion at this week's XIII International AIDS Conference, researchers and AIDS workers are sounding the alarm for what many consider to be the next big trouble spot--India. "We have a very serious catastrophe in the offing, and if there's an enemy of India it's not Pakistan, it's not China, and it's not any of the other superpowers--the big threat to India is HIV/AIDS," said Dr. Ishawar Gilada, the secretary general of the People's Health Organisation (PHO) in India. With a population of over 1 billion people, India already accounts for almost 20% of all infections worldwide--currently the largest absolute number of HIV infections of any single country. And speakers at two press conferences here cautioned that a pervasive culture of denial about the Indian epidemic, among both government officials and healthcare professionals, threatens to allow the crisis to spin out of control."There's been an extraordinary degree of denial about the nature of the problem, and it requires the most extraordinary public health education effort to prevent this from becoming a very major problem," said Dr. Roy Anderson, an epidemiologist at the University of Oxford in Great Britain who spoke at a press conference on the future of AIDS. Although India has a relatively strong economy, technological prowess, and 10% of the world's richest individuals, he warned that a lack of national political will to combat the disease means that in the not too distant future, India's epidemic may come to resemble the crisis in Africa. "We're trying to learn from Africa, to avoid the mistakes, but nationally we are repeating the same thing," "What South Africa has gone through 10 years back India is going through now."

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