I pay tribute to all the lives lost to HIV/AIDS not just in India but globally; today let’s pledge that no more lives are lost to HIV anymore. Let us all come together and join hands in this fight against HIV so that together we can end the epidemic by 2030. This was stated by Smt. Anupriya Patel, Minister of State (Health & Family Welfare) at a function to mark World AIDS Day, 2017 organised by the National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO), Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, here today. At the function, Smt. Anupriya Patel also launched the National Strategic Plan 2017-24 and Mission “SAMPARK”, to trace those who are Left to Follow Up and are to be brought under ART services.Dr. Preeti Sudan, Secretary (Health), Sh. Sanjeeva Kumar, AS & DG (NACO), Mr. Alok Saxena, JS (NACO), Dr. Billali Camara, Country Coordinator, UNAIDS, Dr. Benk Henkedam, WHO Country Representative to India also graced the occasion.
Speaking at the event, Smt. Anupriya Patel informed that 11.5 lakh People Living with HIV(PLHIVs) are taking free ART through 536 ART centres in the country. She further mentioned that we still have a big challenge to trace those who are Left to Follow Up and are to be brought under ART services. With this aim, the Mission “SAMPARK” has been launched, she said. In this direction, the “Community Based Testing” to take HIV testing closer to those in need, will help in fast-tracking the identification of all who are HIV positive and subsequently linking to ART programme, Smt. Patel elaborated. The MoS further added that the National Strategic Plan 2017-24 will pave a roadmap not only for achieving the target of 90:90:90 but also strive along with partners towards fast track strategy of ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030. “The next seven years are, therefore, critical and investments made now will result in substantive gains towards ‘End of AIDS’,”. One of our major focus area is the prevention of dual infection i.e. Mother to Child transmission of HIV and Mother to Child transmission of Syphilis, Smt. Patel stated.
Reiterating the commitment to end the epidemic, Smt. Patel stated that the political commitment of Government for an all-inclusive AIDS response is proved by the fact that the long awaited HIV/AIDS Prevention and Control, Act, 2017 has been enacted. “This landmark Act is people- centric, progressive in nature and brings in legal sanction to address the discrimination faced by People Living with HIV at various settings,” Smt. Patel said. She further stated that now, all who are infected and affected with HIV are legally protected from any social, medical, educational, employment and financial discrimination.The event concluded on the note of renewed commitment to the cause of HIV by the government and each and every partner who have contributed to the successful 25 years of NACO and halting the HIV epidemic in the country.