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World Aids Day 2020: India Needs Stronger Focus On Addressing Mother To Child Transmission Of HIV, Says Winnie Byanyima, Executive Director, UNAIDS

December 1 is marked as World Aids Day, NDTV speaks with Winnie Byanyima, the Executive Director, UNAIDS to know how India has fared in the last few years with respect to AIDS-related illnesses

World Aids Day 2020: India Needs Stronger Focus On Addressing Mother To Child Transmission Of HIV, Says Winnie Byanyima, the Executive Director, UNAIDS

New Delhi: Across the globe, HIV has claimed almost 33 million lives, according to World Health Organisation (WHO). In India, as per UNAIDS – the joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS, in 2017 there were 2.1 million people living with HIV in the country. Talking to NDTV, about the disease in India’s perspective and how India has fared in the last few years, Winnie Byanyima, the Executive Director, UNAIDS said, “The positive news is that the country has been able to bring down AIDS-related new infections in the last 10 years by 38 per cent and AIDS-related deaths by 56 per cent. But, the country needs to make more progress as still 2.1 million people are living with the disease.”

Also Read: World AIDS Day 2020: A Look At How HIV-AIDS Has Been Impacting The World

Further stressing on focus areas India should work on in terms of managing AIDS, Ms Byanyima added,

A stronger focus is needed in controlling AIDS in pregnant women, as if an expecting women is tested positive with the disease the chances are the infection will be transmitted to the child. Secondly, India needs to focus on treating marginalised group such as sex workers, transgenders as these fall under vulnerable people criteria and still face a lot of discrimination.

According to WHO, there is no cure for HIV infection, however, effective antiretroviral drugs (ARVs) can control the virus and help prevent onward transmission to other people. Highlighting this point, Ms Byanyima said,

India produces 80 per cent of the antiretroviral treatment drugs and a lot of countries globally depend on India for the treatment. In the wake of current coronavirus crisis, India needs to make sure that this production and supply chain of antiretroviral drugs is not broken.

Also Read: Expert Blog: HIV Prevention- Ending The HIV Epidemic Together

Talking about the way ahead and the key focus areas to look at to reduce instances of AIDS, Ms Byanyima said that the thumb rule is that we need to protect young adolescent girls and women, it is very crucial. She added,

Sex education at school for both boys and girls is surely a way ahead, we also need the same at community level so as more and more people are aware.

Sharing how coronavirus pandemic will affect development made in tacking AIDS worldwide, Ms Byanyima signed off by adding,

World AIDS Day 2020 will be like no other. COVID-19 is threatening the progress that the world has made in health and development over the past 20 years, including the gains we have made against HIV. Like all epidemics, it is widening the inequalities that already existed.

About World AIDS Day 2020

In bid to show support for people living with HIV and to commemorate those who have died from AIDS-related illness, December 1 is marked as World AIDS Day. Founded in 1988, World AIDS Day was the first ever global health day. Each year, organizations and individuals across the world bring attention to the HIV epidemic with a particular theme to increase HIV awareness and knowledge and speak out against HIV stigma. The theme for the 2020 observance is “Ending the HIV/AIDS Epidemic: Resilience and Impact.”

NDTV – Dettol Banega Swasth India campaign is an extension of the five-year-old Banega Swachh India initiative helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. It aims to spread awareness about critical health issues facing the country. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (WaterSanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign highlights the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children to prevent maternal and child mortality, fight malnutrition, stunting, wasting, anaemia and disease prevention through vaccines. Importance of programmes like Public Distribution System (PDS), Mid-day Meal Scheme, POSHAN Abhiyan and the role of Aganwadis and ASHA workers are also covered. Only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and become a Swasth or healthy India. The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollutionwaste managementplastic banmanual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene

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