World AIDS Day is marked on 1 December annually to raise awareness about the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). HIV AIDS continues to remain a global public health issue and has claimed more than 36 million lives globally since it was first identified.
In India, Maharashtra has the highest number of HIV cases, almost 50 percent of the total HIV/AIDS cases in India. According to the official data released in 2020 by National AIDS Control Organization (NACO), Maharashtra has the highest number of new HIV infections in India with a total of 8.45 lakh new cases being reported alone in the year 2019. Bihar has a total of 8.04 lakh HIV cases. Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal are third and fourth with 6.72 lakh and 3.97 lakh cases, respectively. Gujarat has reported 3.37 lakh cases and Delhi with 2.99 lakh HIV cases.
Other states such as Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Haryana, Punjab, Andhra Pradesh, Odisha and Telangana had annual HIV cases between 2,000 and 3,000 in the year 2019.
All these above mentioned 15 states together account for almost 83 percent of the total new HIV infections in the country.
As Covid-19 brought nearly every corner of the Earth to a halt early last year, researchers around the world scrambled to develop a vaccine to fend off the deadly respiratory coronavirus. And just several months later — in a process that normally takes years — several vaccines were ready for worldwide distribution.
In comparison, about 40 years since the earliest reports of what became known as AIDS, scientists are still scratching their heads to develop a vaccine against the virus that causes the life-threatening disease — HIV.
Many factors such as poverty, high degree of mobility and migration along with people working as commercial sex workers, all contribute to the high number of HIV cases in Maharashtra.
There is a high risk of HIV infection spreading among commercial sex workers and hence it poses a higher risk of transmission. Keeping in mind the current situation of the epidemic, the Maharashtra State AIDS Control Society (MSACS) has asked many NGOs to increase testing with the emphasis on index patient concept where clients of HIV positive sex workers will be contacted for testing by the NGOs.