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India Can Become A Role Model In Combating HIV Infections

r parts of the country barring the northeast, where the incidence of HIV transmission due to drug abuse continues to be a cause of worry.

According to Jha, the not so good news is that 'trends in the north remain uncertain and poorly studied'.

'North is not immune to the infection. Unless the government puts in place an effective peer intervention as has been done by the state governments of Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu in particular, there is a risk of the infection spreading in the northern region,' said Jha.

'Our study shows with condom use and awareness programs, the country's AIDS epidemic is far from hopeless.'

The study has tracked HIV prevalence among young women attending pregnancy or antenatal clinics as also men attending sexually transmitted infection clinics in southern and northern states from 2000-2004 as an indicator of infection among young people.

Indicative of the trend among the general population, the study is based on the premise that male use of female sex workers is the main reason for the spread, which subsequently puts wives in a vulnerable position.

In recent years, the Indian government, the World Bank and other external agencies have aimed intervention and awareness programmes at the sex industry and their efforts appear to have contributed to a drastic decline.

Co-author Rajesh Kumar cautions that while the findings are good news, the battle is far from over.

'HIV remains a huge problem in India and we have to remain vigilant,' he says.

'We're not saying the epidemic is under control yet - we are saying that prevention efforts with high-risk groups seem thus far to be having an effect.'

--Edited IANS
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