Epidemics have the habit to resurge, need to achieve zero new transmission of HIV to end AIDS in next 10 years: Harsh Vardhan
Dr. Harsh Vardhan, Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare (MoH&FW) addressing the 75th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), through video conference, informed that country is providing free anti-retro-viral treatment to close to 1.4 million people. The National Aids Control Program (NACP) has been revised, revived, and revamped to focus on hard-to-reach and at-risk populations.
Highlighting resolution 75/260 which concerns the implementation of the declaration of commitment on HIV/AIDS and the political declarations on HIV/AIDS, Dr. Vardhan, said, " We are fully cognisant of the fact that with only 115 months to meet the target, we need to achieve zero new transmission of HIV if we are to deliver on the promise of ending AIDS in the next 10 years. We need to foresee and identify our challenges and gaps, customise our program, share knowledge, emulate best practices, and stride towards reaching the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) of ending the AIDS epidemic, which is a grave public health threat, by 2030."
Informing that the common perception is that the HIV epidemic is under control, he said, "The epidemics have the habit to resurge and hence, constant vigil, and appropriate timely remedial measures are necessary. India has ably demonstrated that strong political leadership is most critical to address inequalities and gaps in epidemic response. During the Covid-19 pandemic, India took swift and timely action by involving communities, civil society, and development partners to mitigate the impact of Covid on HIV services."
Citing that the country has a unique HIV prevention model, which is centered around the concept of ‘Social Contracting through which the ‘Targeted Interventions Program’ is implemented with support from civil society. Dr. Vardhan added that the program is aimed at behaviour change, communication, outreach, service delivery, counselling & testing, and ensuring linkages to HIV care.
"We are gradually transitioning the people living with HIV to Dolutegravir, a safer and efficacious anti-retro-viral medication regimen. Viral load testing facilities have been scaled up, and HIV counselling, testing, and community-based screening for early diagnosis has been ramped up to achieve the target of Elimination of Mother to Child Transmission of HIV," he added.