India: The AIDS Pharmacy Of The World

India is bolstering its reputation as the pharmacy of the world when it comes to the treatment of one condition in particular: AIDS and the virus which causes it, HIV.

In 2017, there were approximately 36.9 million individuals living with HIV/AIDS, with 940,000 people succumbing to the complications of the disease. In that year, 1.8 million new HIV infections were reported – a rate of 5,000 new infections daily.

“New HIV infections fell from 120,000 in 2010 to 88,000 in 2017; AIDS-related deaths decreased from 160,000 to 90,000; and there were 2.1 million people living with HIV in India 2017, compared to 2.3 million in 2010.”

India is home to world’s third-largest HIV epidemic. As of 2017, 2.1 million Indians were living with the virus. There were 88,000 new infections that year and 69,000 deaths due to the complications of AIDS.

While HIV/AIDS continues to pose a significant public health threat to India, it is important to recognise that progress has been made. As reported by Health Issues India last year

“New HIV infections fell from 120,000 in 2010 to 88,000 in 2017; AIDS-related deaths decreased from 160,000 to 90,000; and there were 2.1 million people living with HIV in India 2017, compared to 2.3 million in 2010.”

One of the key ways in which quality of life and life expectancy has been improved for those living with HIV/AIDS is antiretroviral therapy (ART). Treatment with ART allows HIV-positive individuals to live longer, healthier lives and reduces the risk of transmission to others.

In India, just 56 percent of individuals testing positively for HIV receive ART as of 2017. Government initiatives could improve this figure. A ‘test and treat’ initiative sees those who test positive for HIV be immediately provided with ART. The Health Ministry under the previous Union Minister J. P. Nadda committed to a 90-90-90 strategy, wherein it committed to

  • Identifying ninety percent of those living with HIV in India
  • Ensuring ninety percent of those living with HIV in India receive treatment
  • Aiming for sustained viral load suppression in ninety percent of HIV-positive Indians

Yet the provision of ART is not something India is reserving for its own people. Indian-produced HIV medications enjoy a significant global footprint as new statistics show.

““It is time to focus on future challenges and invigorate research in key areas including better diagnosis to identify the maximum number of HIV-infected persons and expanding ART coverage, developing a vaccine and new treatments to alleviate the need for lifelong ART and finally, preventing new cases of HIV infection.””

Two-thirds of HIV/AIDS medicines worldwide are supplied by the Indian pharmaceutical industry, according to Paulomi Tripathi, a First Secretary in India’s UN Mission. She credits this output with “[helping] scale up access to treatment across developing countries”, indicative of a significant commitment being made and sustained by India in the fight against the disease.

Addressing the United Nations General Assembly, Tripathi emphasised that “significant challenges remain in our way towards eliminating HIV/AIDS as a public health threat by 2030.”

As such, she said, “It is time to focus on future challenges and invigorate research in key areas including better diagnosis to identify the maximum number of HIV-infected persons and expanding ART coverage, developing a vaccine and new treatments to alleviate the need for lifelong ART and finally, preventing new cases of HIV infection.”

Citing a Harvard Business School study from 2017, The Economic Times notes that the provision of medicines by Indian pharma has effected a reduction in the cost of first-line treatments from US$414 to US$74.

India has long been regarded as ‘the pharmacy of the developing world’, owing to its voluminous exports of generic medicines to the developing world. The latest findings concerning its exports of HIV/AIDS medicines shows it is a label the nation shows no signs of surrendering.- Health Issues India 

Share this:

Related Post

Stay Updated on Medical Equipment and Devices industry.
Receive our Daily Newsletter.