Test and Treat Policy for HIV Launched

Union Minister for Health & Family Welfare J P Nadda launched the Test and Treat Policy for HIV. This will be for all men, women, adolescents and children who have been diagnosed as a HIV + case.

Any person who tests positive for the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) will receive free anti-retroviral therapy (ART) from the government under a new test-and-treat policy. This will improve longevity, improve quality of life of those infected and will save them from many opportunistic infections, especially TB.

The World Health Organisation had in September 2015 recommended the use of ART, citing clinical trials that confirmed that the early use of the therapy keeps people with HIV alive, healthier and reduces the risk of transmitting the virus to others.

India will soon develop a National Strategic Plan for HIV for next seven years and these seven years will be crucial for ending AIDS.

To facilitate reduction in stigma and discrimination, the long pending HIV/AIDS Act has been passed very recently, which is an historical step. Very few countries globally have such a law to protect rights of people infected with HIV.

The key provisions of HIV/AIDS Bill are prohibition of discrimination, informed consent, non-disclosure of HIV status, anti-retroviral therapy & opportunistic infection management, protection of property of affected children, safe working environment and appointment of ombudsman in every State.

The Health Ministry has intensified its efforts to find all those that are estimated to be infected with HIV. Out of 21 lakh estimated with HIV, we know only 14 lakh. To detect remaining we have revised national HIV testing guidelines and are aiming to reach out to people in community and test them where they are, of course with proper counseling and consent.

India has nearly 1600 ART and Link ART sites where treatment is provided across the country and recently we crossed the 1 million people on ART, second country in world to have such large numbers on free lifelong treatment. India has been able to avert 1.5 lakh deaths due to ART and we will be able to avert 4.5 lakh more deaths by expanding provision of ART.

The 90:90:90 strategy that the Ministry has adopted will help to identify 90% of those infected, place 90% of these on treatment and ensure 90% have their virus under control.