Vol. 4 Num 61 Sat. July 26, 2003  
Front Page

4.6m Indians living with HIV/AIDS

India announced a sharp rise in its number of HIV/AIDS cases yesterday after the United Nations warned New Delhi it must ramp up efforts to fight the disease to avoid catastrophe.

Meenakshi Datta Ghosh, project director of the National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO), said some 4.58 million Indians were living with HIV/AIDS at the end of 2002, a significant leap over the figure of 3.97 million the previous year.

"At the upper range, 4.58 million people are living with HIV/AIDS in the country according to our survey for 2002," Ghosh told an event on the eve of a parliamentary convention this weekend to plan strategies to battle the pandemic.

India, with a population of more than one billion, has the second largest number of people living with HIV/AIDS after South Africa, which has an infected population of around five million and a total population of about 42 million.

The United Nations' top official on AIDS, Peter Piot, who is here to attend the biggest forum on the AIDS crisis ever held in India, stressed the need for urgent implementation of prevention programmes.

"India has a king-sized problem. AIDS is spreading rapidly in the country. But it is a problem with a solution. We can act now before it is too late. India has the opportunity to turn around the epidemic," Piot, executive director of UNAIDS, told the briefing.