India’s NACO, UNAIDS Launch Five-Year Campaign To Fight Spread Of HIV/AIDS In Northeastern States

India’s National AIDS Control Organization and UNAIDS on Friday launched a five-year campaign that aims to reduce the risk and impact of HIV/AIDS in the country’s northeastern states, ANI/DailyIndia.com reports. Panabaka Lakshmi, minister of state in the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, said the government wants to increase its efforts in the Northeast because of the region’s high HIV prevalence.

The key components of the campaign — which received an $8.9 million grant from the Australian government — include capacity building, as well as advocating support and care for women and children in the region. The initiative also aims to develop innovative, state-specific programs and will reach out to rural districts by establishing a network of HIV/AIDS services that will partner with state and community programs. According to Australian High Commissioner John McCarthy, the $8.9 million grant will benefit four of the northeastern states — Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Nagaland.

According to ANI/DailyIndia.com, Manipur and Nagaland are two of the six states with the highest HIV/AIDS prevalence in India. In addition, estimates have shown that 30% of the country’s injection drug users reside in the northeastern region, ANI/DailyIndia.com reports (ANI/DailyIndia.com, 10/12).

According to official estimates, there are approximately 200,000 IDUs in India, although advocates say the number likely is higher. About 2.2% of all HIV cases in the country are transmitted through injection drug use, according to NACO. Denis Broun, head of UNAIDS in India, said that the figure likely is higher than 2.2%. “The percentage for IDU transmissions may be relatively small, but if there are more IDUs than thought, it could be a major transmission route in the future,” Broun said (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 6/13).

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