Figures released in July 2007 by the Indian Government, in partnership with World Health Organisation, estimate that between 2.0 – 3.1 million people, less than 1% of the population, are living with HIV in India . This puts India behind only South Africa and Nigeria with the number of infected persons. Dharwad district is identified as a high prevalence district, with approximately 6% of the population living with HIV.
The government of India has responded by creating National and Local Awareness Programs, establishing of counselling and Testing centres and provision of free medicines. Unfortunately, like many other countries, the provision of Anti Retroviral Therapy is severely limited but the situation is improving. Limited supply of the drug Nevirapine, which prevents transmission from mother to child is also available.
In 2007 Operation Equip India conducted a detailed survey regarding community understanding about HIV as well as understanding what services were available for those affected in both the government, private and NGO sectors. A gap was identified in the care and support available for those living with this disease. Issues of stigma and isolation were also identified, with many living in fear of their diagnosis being discovered and being rejected by their family and community.
In response to this Operation Equip India launched a new initiative on World AIDS Day , 1 st December 2007, to care for those affected.
Training programmes will be given to bring awareness of the truth about HIV and equipping community based volunteers to provide Home based care and support to families.