53,000 HIV-positive Children in India, Number Increasing
The Indian Health Minister, Ghulam Nabi Azad, announced on July 29 that there are nearly 53,000 HIV positive children in India. This constitutes an increase of more than 2000% since 2006, when 2,253 cases of HIV-positive children were reported; however, this huge increase may be distorted by the fact that more Indians are being tested for HIV than ever before.
Ghulam Nabi Azad explained that many HIV infections among Indian children result when newborns are infected by their mothers.
"To arrest this trend, the Prevention of Parent to Child Transmission (PPTCT) programme is being implemented since 2002," he said.
"In the year 2008, a total of 4.1 million pregnant women were counselled and tested, of whom 19,986 were found positive and 10,179 mother-baby pairs received prophylactic treatment to prevent transmission from infected mother to infant," he added.
Parent-to-child transmission, however, may not be the primary reason for the change in HIV statistics.
The huge increase in the number of confirmed cases may be due to the expanded testing for the virus. India, home to more than a billion people, currently has 217 facilities for HIV/AIDS treatment and 5,155 counseling and testing centers.
Whatever the case, India finds itself in dire straights with regards to HIV/AIDS. Of the 2.5 million HIV/AIDS cases in India, only 758,698 HIV-positive patients are being treated under the country's AIDS control program.