HIV & AIDS epidemic continues to pose greater challenges worldwide. Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS) is a life-threatening condition caused by the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). 38.4 million people in the world were living with HIV in 2021, says the World Health Organizations’ (WHO) summary of the global HIV epidemic, 2021. WHO’s 2022–2030 global health sector strategy on HIV aims to reduce HIV infections from 1.5 million in 2020 to 335 000 by 2030, and deaths from 680 000 in 2020 to under 240 000 in 2030.
Over the last three-decades since the country detected its first HIV positive case, the concern has scaled up, more so is some Northeastern States. As far as adult HIV prevalence rate is concerned, Nagaland stands as 2nd Highest HIV Burden State in the country which is way above the National average. According to ‘Sankalak: Status of National AIDS Response 2022,’ the National Adult HIV Prevalence Rate in India stands at 0.21% and 1.36% in Nagaland.
In Nagaland, HIV prevalence is consistently highest among 15-49 years of age at 1.36% as compared to national average of 0.21% comprising 87.39% of the total HIV positives. The statistics of 87.46% of HIV transmission occurring through sexual route in Nagaland raises even more concerns and issued to be dealt with in relation to health awareness. People Living with HIV (PLHIV) in India stands at 2401280 out of which a total of 21730 counts in Nagaland. AIDS related deaths in India at 41,970 and 307 in Nagaland.
During the 2nd Nagaland Harm Reduction conference recently held in Kohima, the Commissioner & Secretary of Nagaland’s Health & Family Welfare had expressed grave concern on the status of HIV & AIDS prevalence in the State. In Nagaland, HIV is not only confined to the so-called high risk groups but has reached to general population, the Government official cited and called for commitment to remove all barriers to access HIV services, stigma and discrimination, and ensure equality and good quality to all.
From the very beginning the world’s response to the HIV & AIDS epidemic has been one of shaming, stigma and discrimination, and unfairness. Maybe it is time to reflect on the strategy and countering tactics at the policy making level and find ways that would create consciousness from the bottom to top level. While the global, national and state level governments continue with their commitment to the HIV response and improving the lives of people living with HIV, it will need to take those policies and strategies to the home with support of community based institutions like the Church, schools and colleges, civil societies and other local bodies. To make it happen, the inclusive responsive should also address the challenges for access to appropriate and equitable HIV treatment and care.
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