India revises HIV/AIDS estimates

The National AIDS Control Organization in India recently revised their national HIV prevalence estimates, drastically lowering the estimated number of HIV-infected people in the country to 2.5 million, a figure less than half of that projected by the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS). India was recently thought to have surpassed South Africa in its total number of HIV-infected individuals, based on surveillance data collected from antenatal clinics and high-risk individuals.

The new prevalence data in India reflects the country's efforts to expand their national HIV/AIDS surveillance system. Last year alone the government added 400 new testing sites and also conducted a population-based survey that tested 102,000 individuals for HIV infection. This resulted in a much different estimate of the HIV prevalence within the general population. These new figures are endorsed by both UNAIDS and the World Health Organization.

The additional surveillance shows that in some of the southern states, including Tamil Nadu, the HIV prevalence has started to either stabilize or decline. This is promising news since HIV prevention has been a focus in these regions for several years. But Indian officials warn against assuming the country's HIV epidemic is sharply declining. Surveillance data from 2006 suggests that HIV infection rates among groups at high risk of HIV infection, including injection-drug users and men who have sex with men, are increasing, especially in urban centers.

All articles written by Kristen Jill Kresge