With the fear of HIV/AIDS cases resurfacing in future, the National Aids Control Organisation (NACO) has said that a vaccine for the deadly infection is imperative.
Currently, there is no vaccine to prevent HIV/AIDS and Indian scientists are actively engaged in developing vaccines against the virus. “Despite the programme advancement, vaccine will remain important. You never know when the disease can resurface. Vaccine itself is the most effective prevention tool,” Dr KS Sachdeva, Deputy Director General, NACO, said.
“Advocacy for HIV/AIDS is in the evolutionary stage. This is one disease where the social context is more relevant that the treatment context. Standing at an inflexion point, one can say that much has been achieved. We are close to almost eliminating HIV/AIDS,” he said.
In 2015, HIV/AIDS prevalence in India was an estimated 0.26 per cent of total population. India has almost 2.1 million people living with HIV/AIDS. India’s HIV/AIDS epidemic is however slowing down, with a 32 per cent decline in new HIV/AIDS infections (86,000 in 2015), and a 54 per cent decline in AIDS-related deaths between 2007 and 2015.
“We are moving towards elimination but we will have some bottlenecks along the way. Vaccine will be welcomed as that will be an additional tool. We should not miss that momentum just because money is decreasing,” said Nicole Seguy, Team Leader for Communicable Diseases at the World Health Organisation, India country office.
Recently, Indian scientists have identified a new antibody against HIV/AIDS subtype-C from Indian patients. This finding will help design vaccines against HIV/AIDS in the future. Scientists said that when given along with retroviral drugs, such a vaccine will be able to reduce viral load in patients. This will also help in passive immunotherapy — killing low amounts of virus in patients who may have been accidently infected with the virus.
The Indian scientists have named the identified antibody as C11 since it is specific to subtype-C of HIV/AIDS virus. As much as 90 per cent patients in India and South Africa are affected by this subtype. Scientists took blood samples from a set of patients visiting All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in New Delhi and YR Gaitonde Centre for AIDS Research and Education, Chennai, for treatment.
HIV/AIDS IN INDIA
- In 2015, HIV prevalence in India was an estimated 0.26 per cent of total population
- The country has almost 2.1 million people living with HIV
- The country’s HIV epidemic is slowing down, with a 32 per cent decline in new HIV infections (86,000 in 2015), and a 54 per cent decline in AIDS-related deaths between 2007 and 2015
-NEETU CHANDRA SHARMA |DNA India