‘India should focus on prevention of HIV’

Namrata Devikar
Wednesday, 6 March 2019

“The scientific community has clearly stated this is not the cure. However, it is an important development in further research on HIV. But India must not lose its focus on prevention,” said Panda.  
He added that so far, India has emphasised on early detection and prevention.

Pune: While international media is reporting the second patient popularly known as the ‘London patient’ who was cleared of human immunodeficiency viruses (HIV) recently, Director of National AIDS Research Institute (NARI) Dr Samiran Panda said as newer treatment modalities are coming up, India should not lose its focus from prevention of HIV as it is a huge burden on Indian healthcare.

According to the National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO), India is estimated to have around 87,580 new HIV infections in 2017, showing new HIV infection decline by 85 per cent since the peak of 1995 and by 27 per cent between 2010-2017. Women are accounted for 40 per cent of the annual new HIV infection in 2017. 

Speaking to Sakal Times, Dr Panda said on Tuesday that there are international reports coming in about the second patient from London who has been cleared of HIV. “Similar patient was reported almost a decade ago in United States of America (USA) and he was called the ‘Berlin patient’. In both the cases, the patients underwent a bone marrow transplant (BMT) where the donor who was unrelated had a genetic mutation which was resistant to HIV. Now after the transplant, in both cases, the virus could not find the receptor and so was reduced. Later, both the patients were cleared of HIV,” noted Panda. He further added that these two cases are very rare.

“The scientific community has clearly stated this is not the cure. However, it is an important development in further research on HIV. But India must not lose its focus on prevention,” said Panda.  
He added that so far, India has emphasised on early detection and prevention.

“It is not right to think that now unsafe intercourse can be done. It is not a definitive cure and so use of contraception should be continued and prevention measure should continue,” said Panda. Many reports indicate that check-up of pregnant women has been an effective intervention in the detection of HIV and including many under the anti-retroviral therapy (ART) treatment modality. It has also significantly reduced the mother to child transmission.

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