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    070729

    The Africa syndrome. India confronts the spectre of a massive epidemic.

    McDonald H

    FAR EASTERN ECONOMIC REVIEW. 1992 Feb 20; 28-9.

    As the AIDS epidemic and HIV transmission in India increasingly resembles that observed in sub-Saharan Africa, Indian society's arrogant perception of invulnerability to the pandemic is proving to be considerably ill-conceived. The dimensions of the epidemic have multiplied greatly since AIDS was 1st identified among prostitutes in Madras, with the trends observed in Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu being especially ominous. AIDS has forced Indian society and research professionals to acknowledge the existence of domestic prostitution, homosexuals, and drug users. While only 103 AIDS cases and 6,400 HIV infections have been officially identified, it is clear that these cases represent only a tiny fraction of the true extent of the epidemic in India. The government will therefore spend up to US$7.75 million on an anti-AIDS program aimed at ensuring secure blood supplies, and checking heterosexual transmission through education and the promotion of condoms. The program also targets IV-drug users and truck drivers for education and behavioral change. India is the 2nd country after Zaire to accept foreign loans for such a purpose. It will receive US$85 million over 5 years from the World Bank in addition to supplemental funds from the WHO and the U.S. Weak attempts, however, have been made to test blood supplies, with only 15% being tested in Tamil Nadu. A large gap also remains between health educators and needy target groups. Finally, while some top officials realize the need for immediate action against AIDS, broad public awareness and coping will come only after AIDS mortality begins to mount in the population.
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