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When 'prevalence' Makes for Disparity in AIDS Care

The third phase of the National AIDS Control Program (NACP), set to kick-start this month, will see care and control strategies vary widely from state to state. States// are classified as "high prevalence" and "low prevalence", based on declared numbers of the HIV/AIDS infected. But there is a difference in attitude towards AIDS control from state to state.

The budgetary allocation also differs, affecting awareness campaigns in north Indian states, with declarations and testing low. Health activists say that this is like "sitting on top of a volcano and waiting for it to start spewing".

Tamil Nadu, which has topped the list of high prevalence states since 1986, tested 100,000 people in 2006 - one of the highest numbers of tests done in the country.

This would be expanded further by taking the services to the community level, said Supriya Sahu, chairperson of the Tamil Nadu State Aids Control Society (TANSACS). "Efforts in NACP III would be to bring the prevalence down to 0.1 percent by 2012."

The prevalence in this southern Indian state is calculated to be at 0.5 percent in 2007. "Reaching out to the infected and affected children will be a priority as they are the most vulnerable," she added.

"Steps are being taken to ensure that no new infections happen among newborns through a comprehensive outreach program where we are tracking each and every HIV positive pregnant woman for Nevrapine administration," Sahu told IANS.

"We are also mobilising NGOs, health service providers and the local community to find every child infected with HIV who needs care and support.

"At present we have 1,124 children on anti-retroviral treatments (ART) - the largest number of children on ART in the country in any one state. The target is to enrol 2000 children on ART by the end of July," she added.

Matters of concern for HIV positive widows and destitute women like "denial of property and oth
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