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World AIDS Day 2023: Navigating Declines And Empowering Vulnerable Communities In India's Triumph Over HIV/AIDS

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World AIDS Day 2023: Navigating Declines And Empowering Vulnerable Communities In India's Triumph Over HIV/AIDS

Official demographics for the LGBTQ+ population in India are unavailable, but a 2012 submission by the government to the Supreme Court estimated around 2.5 million gay individuals in the country.

Written by Tavishi Dogra |Updated : December 1, 2023 2:13 PM IST

World AIDS Day 2023: In India, the challenge of HIV/AIDS persists as a significant public health concern. As of 2021, approximately 2.4 million individuals are living with HIV/AIDS, positioning India as the country with the third-largest population affected by the virus. Despite this, there has been a notable decline in India's AIDS prevalence rate since the peak of the epidemic in 2000. In 2000, the prevalence stood at 0.55%, decreasing to 0.32% in 2010 and dropping to around 0.21% in 2021, a figure lower than that of many other nations.

HIV Epidemic In India

The overall trajectory of the HIV epidemic in India indicates a decreasing trend, with estimated annual new HIV infections witnessing a 37% decline between 2010 and 2019. Noteworthy high-risk populations contributing to the ongoing challenge include female sex workers, men who engage in sex with men, injecting drug users, and transgender/Hijra individuals. Despite progress, it is evident that targeted efforts and sustained initiatives are crucial to continue the positive momentum in combating HIV/AIDS in India.

HIV/AIDS: Prevention And Treatment

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Mansi Poddar is a psychotherapist and founder of the Heal. Grow. Thrive Foundation said, "In the effort to combat HIV/AIDS, mental health is often overlooked, both by treatment providers and patients. People living with HIV commonly grapple with intense emotions, primarily shame and grief, leading to feelings of hopelessness, depression, and anxiety. Implementing interventions that seamlessly integrate mental health care for families, patients, and healthcare professionals is crucial. Community support and psychoeducation play a vital role in normalizing emotional difficulties. A key initiative involves educating doctors and caregivers on supporting individuals dealing with heightened levels of fear, shame, loss and other mental health challenges faced by them. Healing happens within the realm of supportive relationships. Loss, in this context, encompasses identity struggles, adapting to a chronic illness, social stigma, and changes in the body's functionality. Mental health support is indispensable in addressing HIV/AIDS, both in prevention and treatment efforts."

In 2016

UNAIDS reported 80,000 new HIV infections and 62,000 AIDS-related deaths in India. The country had 2.1 million people living with HIV, with only 49% accessing antiretroviral therapy. UNAIDS data revealed a 4.3% HIV prevalence among gay men and other men who have sex with men, while transgender people had a prevalence of 7.2%. The Supreme Court's repeal of section 377 and the enforcement of the HIV and AIDS Act signal positive shifts, diminishing social stigma against the LGBTQ community. With improved rights, more individuals are expected to seek medical treatment readily. Official demographics for the LGBTQ+ population in India are unavailable, but a 2012 submission by the government to the Supreme Court estimated around 2.5 million gay individuals in the country. Based on self-declarations to the Ministry of Health, these figures may be conservative, as many may fear discrimination and choose not to disclose such information.