National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO) on Friday launched a campaign jointly with the United Nations anti-AIDS agency, UNAIDS, here for combating the fatal disease in the northeastern region.
Aimed at reducing the risk and impact of HIV, the key components of the initiative, include capacity building and advocating care and support for women and children in the northeastern states.
The programme also aims at developing innovative and state-specific programmes. Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare, Panabaka Lakshmi said that the Northeastern states are high HIV/AIDS prevalence states and therefore the government wants to take special care in the region.
The programme includes reaching out to the far-flung districts by developing a network of services in partnership with state machinery, as well as other community-based services.
The five-year initiative is supported with an 8.9-million-dollars grant from the Australian Government. "Australia is going to commit around nine million dollars over the next five years to combat AIDS in four of the northeastern states - Manipur, Meghalaya, Nagaland and Mizoram," said John McCarthy, the Australian High Commissioner.
Two of the six high HIV/AIDS prevalent states are in the Northeast, namely Manipur and Nagaland. Estimates show that 30 per cent of the country's 'injecting' drug users are in the Northeast.
A latest survey, conducted by National Family Health Survey (NFHS-3) of India, found a HIV prevalence rate of 0.28 percent for the population in the age group of 15-49 years.
Prevalence is 60 percent higher among men than in women, at 0.36 percent and 0.22 percent respectively. NFHS-3 found HIV prevalence to be particularly high in Manipur (1.1 percent) and Andhra Pradesh (1 percent).