INDIA HIV PREVENTION MODEL CAN BE ADOPTED AND SCALED UP IN OTHER COUNTRIES: DR HARSH VARDHAN
India’s HIV Prevention model can be adopted and scaled up in other countries, Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan said while addressing the Ministerial meeting of the Global Prevention Coalition (GPC) for HIV Prevention digitally through Video Conference. Smt. Arti Ahuja, Addl. Secretary (Health), Sh. Alok Saxena, Jt. Secretary (Health), Smt. Shobini Rajan, ADG, NACO were also present at the virtual meet.
Hosted by UNAIDS and UNFPA on behalf of the Global HIV Prevention Coalition (GPC),the significance of the conference this year is to achieve the 2016 UNGA commitment to end AIDS by 2030. Member States of GPC had agreed to reduce new adult HIV infections by 75% at the end of 2020 from 2010 levels.
Dr. Vardhan acknowledged that Global AIDS response has shown a remarkable success in reducing new infections, improving access to prevention services for key population and treatment services for People living with HIV (PLHIV) which has in turn reduced AIDS related mortality, enabling reduction in mother to child transmission of HIV and creating an enabling environment. Dr. Harsh Vardhan noted that the organization “has shown to the world a model where multiple stakeholders can come together and work cohesively towards a common goal.”
Dr. Harsh Vardhan said that the provision of generic Anti-Retroviral drugs (ARV) from India to the world has had a critical impact in controlling the HIV epidemic. India’s unique HIV prevention model is centered around the concept of ‘Social Contracting’ through which the Targeted Interventions (TI) programme is implemented, the Union Health Minister remarked, “With support from Non-Government Organizations, the programme is aimed at providing outreach, service delivery, counseling & testing and ensuring linkages to HIV care. India’s prevention model can be adopted and scaled up in many countries by tailoring the intervention as per local settings. It can also be replicated in other prevention and disease control programmes.”
Elaborating on how India protected the gains made in HIV prevention during the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. Vardhan said, “The Government of India took swift and timely action by involving communities, civil society, development partners to reach out to the last mile with a robust implementation plan for ARV dispensation. The Government also linked key populations and PLHIV to various social welfare schemes. Advisories and guidance notes were issued by NACO from time to time aligned with global guidelines in the context”.
Dr. Harsh Vardhan brought to light that to focus on hard-to-reach populations and fulfill its commitments, India had revamped its Targeted Intervention (TI) programme -
• Those living in prisons and other closed settings were considered as priority populations and interventions launched were gradually scaled up since 2016
• HIV Counseling & Testing Services (HCTS) and Community based Screening of HIV for improving early diagnosis were also ramped up
• for Elimination of Mother to Child Transmission of HIV, the coverage of testing for HIV across the country was increased
• approximately 50,000 PLHIV who were lost to follow-up were linked back to Anti-Retroviral Treatment services through ‘Mission SAMPARK’ under the Test and Treat Policy
• from the already existing ten public sector labs, Viral Load Testing facilities have been scaled up to 64 labs across the country
He also said that The Human Immunodeficiency Virus and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (Prevention and Control) Act, 2017 has provided a legal and enabling framework for safeguarding the human rights of the infected and affected populations.
Not only did he warn the various stakeholders of newer vulnerabilities and risks aggravated by the pandemic but also concluded his speech by reiterating India’s commitment to achieve the 90-90-90 targets across the country by the end of the current year plus end the AIDS epidemic by 2030.