The latest World Bank study – ‘Impact of Targeted
Interventions on Heterosexual Transmission of HIV in India’ – estimates that
India will ward off about three million new HIV infections during the period
1995–2015 by using targeted interventions among vulnerable groups. The study,
released yesterday, evaluated the impact of targeted interventions among female
sex workers in four states categorized as ‘high prevalent’, namely Andhra
Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharashtra, and Tamil Nadu.

The study found a significant decline in HIV prevalence
among female sex workers and young women (15–24 years) seeking antenatal care
in the high-prevalence southern states. The drop in prevalence is associated
with a significant increase in consistent condom use.

‘Among the women seeking antenatal care in districts
with high intensity of targeted interventions, HIV prevalence declined by more
than 50 per cent from 1.9 per cent in 2001 to 0.8 per cent in 2008, compared
with low-intensity districts where the infection rate remained constant at 0.9
per cent in both 2001 and 2008,’ the study states.

The study shows the cost-effectiveness of these targeted
HIV-prevention interventions for female sex workers. Sayan Chatterjee,
secretary and director general of National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO),
said, ‘There has been a tremendous scale-up of prevention and treatment
interventions under this programme, which has led to an overall reduction in
new infections and AIDS-related deaths in India.’

David Wilson, World Bank’s global HIV/AIDS programme
director, reminded, ‘AIDS remains a critical development issue that is
reversing decades of human progress. With 34 million people living with HIV,
AIDS continues to decimate communities, stymie economic growth, and orphan
children.’

India finds a place in the list of 22 countries
prioritized for preventing mother-to-child transmission infection, according to
the latest report from Joint United Nations Programme on
HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), drafted jointly with United Nations Children’s Fund
(UNICEF) and World Health Organization (WHO).

About 48 lakh people were living with HIV in Asia in
2010 and nearly half of them – 49 per cent – are in India, says the report. The
first HIV-positive case in India was detected in 1986 in Tamil Nadu.