World Aids Day: Despite free treatment, India battles rising case numbers

HIV positive campaigner, Loon Gangte, holds an antiretroviral HIV treatment drug in Delhi, India, 2022.
HIV positive campaigner, Loon Gangte, holds an antiretroviral HIV treatment drug in Delhi, India, 2022. © FRANCE 24 screenshot

Since 2004 India has been providing free treatment to 1.5 million HIV-infected patients, yet cases are rising. According to the Indian government, there are now an estimated 2.4 million people living with HIV in the country. FRANCE 24 reports. 

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Yet this figure is likely inaccurate as identifying people who are HIV positive is a challenge. Often marginalised people are left out of the health care system and others do not want to be tested near where they live due to stigma. Tests from private clinics are frequently left out of the national count.

While India has managed to slow down the number of cases since the epidemic’s peak in 2000, HIV positive campaigner, Loon Gangte, would like to see access to treatment made available to all infected people in the country.

Antiretroviral tablets prevent the virus from multiplying and attacking the immune system by reducing viral loads to undetectable levels, with almost no risk of transmission.

The drugs changed Gangte’s life. “When we got married, I didn’t want to have children but [my wife] kept on insisting,” he says. “After two years, I checked my viral load three times and my viral load was undetectable … then we have two kids and they are all negative."

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