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Another approach to HIV and AIDS

The first recognized cases of AIDS were identified in the USA in the early 1980s. Since then, HIV and AIDS have spread across the globe. India is one of the countries where the virus arrived later.

The first recognized cases of AIDS were identified in the USA in the early 1980s. Since then, HIV and AIDS have spread across the globe. India is one of the countries where the virus arrived later.

In India, infection rates soared throughout the 1990’s and today the epidemic is not confined to vulnerable people such as sex workers and truck drivers; it is found in all levels of the society. According to the Indian Government, 2.4 million people are currently carriers of the HIV virus, a low prevalence of 0.34%. Yet in terms of individuals infected, India is home to the third largest number of people living with HIV in the world.

Thanks to the HOPE Humana program which has been running since 2003, more than 800.000 people have been informed about HIV/AIDS, its nature and its way of infection and prevention. The program seeks to prevent the spread of HIV and AIDS by increasing awareness, promoting safe sex practices and ensuring that people, especially vulnerable groups and those tested positive, have access to services like HIV testing and Antiretroviral Treatment (ART). “Firstly, we create awareness to prevent further HIV infections, and secondly, we provide assistance to those already infected”, says Sunil Chauhan a Project Leader at Humana People to People India.

The challenge of changing the mentality

Sunil Chauhan explains that the change of mentality is an important challenge to address in order to reverse the current situation: “I once met this man who told me that his son had recently learnt that he was seropositive. He had been on treatment for one year until he began to feel better, then he stopped. I managed to convince him to go to the doctor with his son. Now he is taking medicines regularly and feels happy and healthy”.

For Rajeev Govindahan, a 39-year-old Indian truck driver who lost a friend to AIDS, the counseling he received from the HOPE Humana made a huge difference in terms of prevention. “Now that I have learnt about HIV/AIDS with the help of the project staff, I am thankful to them for spreading awareness on HIV/AIDS. Now I can also spread the message to others”, says Rajeev.