With statistics being released last month of IndiaÂ’s HIV rate of 5.7 million total infections the following news makes me want to yelp with joy. Yelp!
India plans to provide free anti-retroviral drugs to combat HIV Â— the virus that causes AIDS Â— to around 100,000 people by early next year, a top health official said, as this nation struggles with the largest number of AIDS infections in the world. [Link]
Armed with a budget of about $200 million U.S., availiability of free ARV drugs is going to expand from 52 clinics supplying 35, 000 people to a whole 100 clinics:
“By August, we will be able to reach anti-retroviral therapy drugs to around 85,000 people infected with the virus,” Rao told journalists. “But by early 2007, we will have drugs made available to 100,000 people with HIV.”
According to Sujatha Rao (Director General, National AIDS Control Organization), treatment is going to supplement a newly strengthened AIDS awareness campaign:
Among the new initiatives is a program to reach out to pregnant mothers so that mother-to-child transmission of AIDS can be controlled. So far, only 4,500 pregnant mothers had been given doses of nevrapine Â— a drug that prevents the transmission of the virus from an HIV-infected mother to a newborn infant.
“We are also creating awareness among people in schools, colleges and through the media on what causes HIV. Once people know that AIDS is treatable, although not curable, it will reduce the stigma and discrimination associated with the disease,” Rao said.
Now if only the amount of effort being spent on disputing UNAIDS’ figures could go towards more positive action then I would yelp a little more. I mean really, 5.5 million vs. 5.7 million is still over five too many millions.
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