HIV-AIDS in India Part 1: Epidemiology, HIV Statistics 2011, History

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  • According to a recent study in the British Medical Journal, India has an HIV-AIDS population of approximately 1.4 - 1.6 million people. According to the United Nations 2011 AIDS report, there has been a 50 % decline in the number of new HIV infections in the last 10 years in India. “According to the data released by National AIDS Control Organisation NACO, India has demonstrated an overall reduction of 57 percent in estimated annual new Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infections (among adult population) from 0.274 million in 2000 to 0.116 million in 2011, and the estimated number of people living with HIV was 2.08 million in 2011.”
  • The prevalence estimates reported above are suspect. NACO՚s sentinel survey data indicates over 5.7 million HIV cases in 2001. In 1987 New Delhi announced a National AIDS control Program but that organization spent a substantial amount of time arguing that the AIDS problem in India was overstated


  • Despite being home to the world՚s third-largest population suffering from HIV/AIDS (with South Africa and Nigeria having more) , the AIDS prevalence rate in India is lower than in many other countries. In 2007, India՚s AIDS prevalence rate stood at approximately 0.30 % the 89th highest in the world. The spread of HIV in India is primarily restricted to the southern and north- eastern regions of the country and India has also been praised for its extensive anti-AIDS campaign. The US $ 2.5 billion National AIDS Control Plan III was set up by India in 2007 and received support from UNAIDS The main factors which have contributed to India՚s large HIV-infected population are extensive labour migration and low literacy levels in certain rural areas resulting in lack of awareness and gender disparity. The Government of India has also raised concerns about the role of intravenous drug use and prostitution in spreading AIDS, especially in north-east India and certain urban pockets. A recent study published in the British medical journal “The Lancet” in (2006) reported an approximately 30 % decline in HIV infections among young women aged 15 to 24 years attending prenatal clinics in selected southern states of India from 2000 to 2004 where the epidemic is thought to be concentrated. The authors cautiously attribute observed declines to increased condom use by men who visit commercial sex workers and cite several pieces of corroborating evidence. Some efforts have been made to tailor educational literature to those with low literacy levels, mainly through local libraries as this is the most readily accessible locus of information for interested parties. Increased awareness regarding the disease and citizen՚s related rights is in line with the Universal Declaration on Human Rights.
  • The estimated adult HIV prevalence was 0.32 % in 2008 and 0.31 % in 2009. The states with high HIV prevalence rates include Manipur (1.40 %) , Andhra Pradesh (0.90 %) , Mizoram (0.81 %) ,
  • Nagaland (0.78 %) , Karnataka (0.63 %) and Maharashtra (0.55 %) .
  • The adult HIV prevalence in India is declining from estimated level of 0.41 % in 2000 through 0.36 % in 2006 to 0.31 % in 2009. Adult HIV prevalence at a national level has declined notably in many states, but variations still exist across the states. A decreasing trend is also evident in HIV prevalence among the young population of 15 – 24 years. The estimated number of new annual HIV infections has declined by more than 50 % over the past decade.
  • According to Michel Sidibé, Executive Director of UNAIDS, India՚s success comes from using an evidence-informed and human rights-based approach that is backed by sustained political leadership and civil society engagement. India must now strive to achieve universal access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support

HIV Statistics, 2011

According to NACO, in 2009, the average HIV prevalence among adults was 0.31. According to Avert, the statistics for special populations are as follows:

HIV Statistics 2011
StateAntenatal Clinic HIV Prevalence 2007 (%)STD clinic HIV

Prevalence 2007 (%)


Prevalence 2007 (%)


Prevalence 2007 (%)

Female sex worker HIV prevalence 2007 (%)
A & N Islands0.251.33
Andhra Pradesh1.0017.203.7117.049.74
Arunachal Pradesh0.000.000.00
D & N Haveli0.50
Daman & Diu0.13
Himachal Pradesh0.000.005.390.87
Jammu & Kashmir0.000.20
Madhya Pradesh0.001.720.67
Tamil Nadu0.258.0016.806.604.68
Uttar Pradesh0.000.481.290.400.78
West Bengal0.000.807.765.615.92

Some areas report an HIV prevalence rate of zero in antenatal clinics. This does not necessarily mean HIV is absent from the area, as some states report the presence of the virus at STD clinics and amongst injecting drug users. In some states and territories the average antenatal HIV prevalence is based on reports from only a small number of clinics.


  • In 1986, the first known case of HIV was diagnosed by Dr. Suniti Solmon amongst female sex workers in Chennai. Later that year, sex workers began showing signs of this deadly disease. At that time, foreigners in India were travelling in and out of the country. It is thought that these foreigners were the ones responsible for the first infections. By1987, about 135 more cases came to light. Among these 14 had already progressed to AIDS. Prevalence in high risk groups reached above 5 % by 1990. As per UNDP՚s 2010 report, India had 2.395 million people living with HIV at the end of 2009, up from 2.27 million in 2008. Adult prevalence also rose from 0.29 % in 2008 to 0.31 % in 2009.
  • In 1986, HIV started its epidermic in India, attacking sex workers in Chennai, Tamil Nadu. Setting up HIV screening centres was the first step taken by the government to screen its citizens and the blood bank.
  • To control the spread of the virus, the Indian government set up the National AIDS Control Programme in 1987 to co-ordinate national responses such as blood screening and health education.
  • In 1992, the government set up the National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO) to oversee policies and prevention and control programmes relating to HIV and AIDS and the National AIDS Control Programme (NACP) for HIV prevention. The State AIDS Control Societies (SACS) was set up in 25 societies and 7 union territories to improving blood safety.
  • In 1999, the second phase of the National AIDS Control Programme (NACP II) was introduced to decrease the reach of HIV by promoting behaviour change. The prevention of mother-to-child transmission programme (PMTCT) and the provision of antiretroviral treatment were materialized.
  • In 2007, the third phase of the National AIDS Control Programme (NACP III) targeted the high-risk groups, conducted outreach programmes, amongst others. It also decentralised the effort to local levels and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to provide welfare services to the affected.

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