India launches free antiretroviral program
April 08 2004 11:00 PM ET
India, home to the second-highest number of HIV-positive people in the world, announced this month the launch of a free HIV antiretroviral drug program that aims to treat about 100,000 HIV-positive people in the country, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. At the Lok Nyak AIDS Clinic in New Delhi, current drug supplies are adequate to treat only about 200 HIV-positive patients, and only six have begun treatment. Fewer than 1% of India's 1 billion population are HIV-positive, but that amounts to 4.6 million HIV cases, second only to South Africa in sheer numbers of HIV-positive citizens. The medications distributed through the program are generic copies of patented anti-HIV medications that sell for about $1 per day per person. Delhi is the only state in northern India currently participating in the treatment program; the others are all located in the south. Anti-HIV drugs will be distributed according to a priority chart, with highest priority given to HIV-positive mothers who have already participated in a program that uses antiretroviral drugs to prevent mother-to-child HIV transmissions. Second on the priority list are HIV-positive children under age 15, followed by HIV-positive adults and children who have progressed to an AIDS diagnosis.