Editorial: Virus, viral

While coronavirus is threatening the whole world today, the one which sent shock waves in the 80s and 90s was HIV that caused AIDS. However, effective measures taken to check Human Immunodeficiency Virus have yielded good results, especially in a populated country like India.

Speaking at the Ministerial meeting of the Global Prevention Coalition (GPC) for HIV Prevention through video conference Wednesday, Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan elaborated how India took on HIV.

Speaking on India’s unique HIV prevention model which is centered around the concept of ‘Social Contracting’ through which the Targeted Interventions (TI) programme is implemented, the Union Health Minister remarked, “With support from Non-Government Organisations, the programme is aimed at providing outreach, service delivery, counselling & testing and ensuring linkages to HIV care. India’s prevention model can be adopted and scaled up in many countries by tailoring the intervention as per local settings. It can also be replicated in other prevention and disease control programmes.”

He elaborated how India protected the gains made in HIV prevention during the Covid-19 pandemic. “The Government of India took swift and timely action by involving communities, civil society, development partners to reach out to the last mile with a robust implementation plan for ARV dispensation. The government also linked key populations and PLHIV to various social welfare schemes. Advisories and guidance notes were issued by NACO from time to time aligned with global guidelines in the context”, he stated.

He apprising the audience how India had revamped its Targeted Intervention (TI) programme to focus on hard-to-reach populations to keep its commitments- People living in prisons and other closed settings were considered as priority populations and interventions launched were gradually scaled up since 2016; the HIV Counselling & Testing Services (HCTS), Community based Screening of HIV for improving early diagnosis were also ramped up; the coverage of testing for HIV across the country was increased to achieve the elimination of mother to child Transmission of HIV.

He also added that under the Test and Treat Policy, approximately 50,000 PLHIV who were lost to follow-upwere linked back to Anti-Retroviral Treatment services through ‘Mission SAMPARK’, while Viral Load Testing facilities have been scaled up from the existing ten public sector labs to 64 labs across the country. Such measures are needed to eradicate coronavirus as well.

 

NT Bureau