Fourth phase of AIDS control programme launched

New Delhi, Feb 12: The government Wednesday launched the fourth phase of the National AIDS Control Programme (NACP) at a whopping cost of Rs.142.95 billion.

Promotion of female condoms, scaling up of the second line of the Anti-Retroviral Therapy (ART) and social protection for ending discrimination are some of the key initiatives of the programme, 63 percent of which will be funded by the government.

The programme will focus on preventing new infections, preventing parent to child transmission, creating awareness among the general population and reducing stigma and discrimination.

“It was a challenge for us to organise funds for NACP-IV as all donors put up their hands,” Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad said while launching the initiative.

India has shown an overall reduction of 57 percent in the annual new HIV infections (among adult population) from 2,74,000 in 2000 to 1,16,000 in 2011.

The adult HIV prevalence has decreased from 0.41 percent in 2001 to 0.27 percent in 2011.

Besides, the estimated number of people living with HIV (PLHIV) has decreased from 2.4 million in 2000 to two million in 2011.

Azad said the NACP-IV has been designed based on the lessons learnt from previous phases.

The strategic plan for NACP-IV for the period 2012-17 has been developed through an elaborate multi-stakeholder consultative planning process.

It aims to accelerate the process of epidemic reversal and further strengthen the epidemic response in India through a cautious and well defined integration process over the five-year period, he said.

The health minister also said that all those who failed in the second line of ART treatment will be given the third line from now on.

The NACP-IV will be partly funded through grants from the Global Fund and credit from the World Bank.

Meanwhile, even as the launch programme was on, technicians and counsellors working for the government in the NACP protested outside the venue demanding better wages and working conditions.

“We have gathered from all over the country. The government which is trying to end discrimination against HIV-positive people should first end discrimination against us,” said Zakir Hussain, one of the protesters.

IANS