Treat HIV/AIDS as social, developmental issue, say experts (Dec 1 is World AIDS Day)

Bangalore, Nov 30 ( On the eve of World AIDS Day, experts working in the field of HIV-AIDS Monday stressed the need to consider the disease more as a developmental and social issue than a health issue to check its spread.

“Now, AIDS is more of a developmental and social problem than a health problem. Discrimination and stigma attached with the disease is still prevalent in the country. Counselling and awareness is the key to fight the stigma attached with AIDS,” D.N. Nayak, commissioner in Karnataka’s health and family welfare department, told reporters on the sidelines of an Editors’ Symposium on HIV/AIDS here.

Echoing similar sentiments, P.C.Kasinath, a member of UNAIDS India, said: “There is a need for social protection of people affected by HIV-AIDS. There is also a need for sustained political commitment to rein in AIDS. Human rights approach should be taken up to fight HIV-AIDS.”

The symposium was organised by the Karnataka State AIDS Prevention Society (KSAPS) in collaboration with USAID, UNAIDS and Avahan, the India AIDS Initiative of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

“Media – both regional and mainstream – have been playing a pivotal role in fighting HIV-AIDS by creating awareness among the masses. It’s helping health experts in fighting HIV-AIDS,” said R.R. Jannu, project director, KSAPS.

National Aids Control Organisation (NACO) has marked Karnataka as a “highly prevalent state”.

The state has 245,000 HIV infected persons and 33,000 suffering from AIDS, according to KSAPS. But, only 22,000 patients are registered with the society.

However, fight against HIV-AIDS in the state has got a boost, as according to the latest report, the HIV prevalence among general population in Karnataka has come down to 0.86 percent in 2007 as against 1.5 percent in 2003. The data has been compiled by estimating HIV-AIDS prevalence among attendees in ante-natal clinics across the state.

An estimated 2.5 million people in India, between ages 15 and 49, are feared to be affected with HIV/AIDS, the third largest number in the world.