Mapping Pathways is a multi-national project to develop and nurture a research-driven, community-led global understanding of the emerging evidence base around the adoption of antiretroviral-based prevention strategies to end the HIV/AIDS epidemic. The evidence base is more than results from clinical trials - it must include stakeholder and community perspectives as well.

25 September 2011

Kashmir Gets a Grip on AIDS

via IPS News, by Sana Altaf

When the sole Community Care Centre in Jammu and Kashmir providing medical and psychosocial services to people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA) closed down for lack of patients it was a sure sign that the north Indian state had beaten back dire forecasts.

"There were few people coming in and fewer new cases," Dr. M. A. Wani, former director of the Jammu and Kashmir AIDS Prevention and Control Society (JKAPCS), told IPS, explaining the closure six months ago.

The latest sentinel survey conducted by the JKAPCS in 2010 shows an HIV prevalence of 0.03 percent - down from the 1.2 percent in the survey conducted in 2009.

According to official statistics, of the 4,846 test samples taken in the year 2008 only three persons were found to be HIV positive, and of the 4,840 samples tested in 2009 not one was found positive.

Such figures contrast sharply with grim projections made by the National Aids Control Organisation (NACO) in 2002-2003 that some 40,000 people would be infected with HIV within two years in Jammu and Kashmir and that 20,000 people would die of AIDS by 2015.

Since 1997, only 193 new patients have tested positive for HIV, most of them urban males in the 15 – 45 age group. There are now 2,787 PLWHA, including 800 women and 176 children, in this state with a population of 12.5 million people.

NACO figures released in June say there are 683 people on anti-retroviral therapy (ART) in Jammu and Kashmir where the total number of people recorded as ever getting full-blown AIDS stands at 1,123 - out of which 203 have died.

The low and declining rates have not made life easier for PLHWA, because of the strong social stigma attached to the disease and difficulties in accessing anti-retroviral drugs.

Read the rest.

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