‘HIV self-screening test has potential to become major game-changer in country’

Dr Samiran Panda, director, National AIDS Research Institute.

December 1 marked the 30th anniversary of World AIDS Day. On the event, Director of NARI, Dr Samiran Panda, underscores the significance of HIV testing. This yr’s theme is ‘Know your status’. Panda tells Anuradha Mascarenhas that there’s a want for energetic participation by each youth and ‘at risk’ inhabitants teams

Is HIV nonetheless a menace?

India has many success tales to share with remainder of the world pertaining to HIV containment, together with era of estimated numbers of individuals dwelling with HIV in the nation at common intervals, institution of a national sentinel surveillance system in addition to making certain HIV remedy for over 1.2 million individuals. However, HIV nonetheless stays a priority as we’re but to attain a stage the place the HIV transmission could be declared as non-issue in the nation.

Anti-retroviral remedy has performed an enormous function in bringing down HIV prevalence. What’s your tackle this?

The influence of anti-retroviral remedy over the past decade is apparent as there has been a pointy decline in the estimated variety of individuals dwelling with HIV in the nation. Combination remedy used towards HIV (utilizing three or extra anti-HIV medicines from completely different courses) and the ‘test and treat’ technique of the National AIDS Control Organisation, Government of India, have performed a major function in this regard. This remedy, by bringing down the viral load in people dwelling with HIV, not solely prolongs life and improves its high quality, but additionally serves as a prevention instrument as a result of the possibility of additional transmission both by unsafe intercourse or by unsafe injection practices will get decreased due to adequately suppressed viral load.

What has been NARI’s function in struggle towards HIV an infection?

The National AIDS Research Institute (NARI), one of many premier organisations below Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), was established in 1992. Since inception, its imaginative and prescient has been to construct a analysis capability of distinction, which is able to going through the rising challenges of HIV/AIDS in the nation. We are painstakingly following our goals in this path and have additionally contributed to the nationwide AIDS management programme by producing proof for motion. For instance, NARI, on the nationwide degree, performs a vital function in high quality management of HIV analysis, CD4 rely and viral load estimation.

Currently, we’re engaged on growth of a protocol to look at the accuracy of an indigenously produced HIV oral self test.

Despite progress, stigma and discrimination persists, stopping individuals from present process HIV screening. How can this be combated?

Yes, stigma round HIV, though decreased, does exist and negatively impinges upon varied programmatic points ranging from HIV test uptake at particular person degree. HIV self screening test, if made obtainable in the nation, has the potential of being a major recreation changer. Scientists connected with NARI are presently concerned in designing a research that might look at the guarantees that HIV self exams include and would additionally look into the acceptability of such exams.

HIV estimations report reveals there’s a decline in incidence of HIV however the tempo has slackened in previous few years. What do you suppose wants to be carried out?

‘Reaching out’ is the reply. Reaching out to individuals but unreached and reaching out to troublesome geographical pockets but uncovered are the keys. In order to find a way to accomplish that, the nationwide programme wants to depend on innovation. Active participation of ‘at risk population groups’ and likewise of the youth are quintessential in this regard.

Is there a necessity for an HIV vaccine? If sure, what efforts are underway?

Yes, there’s a want for HIV vaccine because it has the potential to handle points round residual threat behaviour amongst ‘at risk’ inhabitants teams and ensuing HIV transmission. However, the challenges associated to HIV vaccines are many. There are ongoing efforts globally to develop HIV vaccines, that are secure and secure, which might have good efficacy and appreciable safety sturdiness. Cost of such vaccines and acceptability in the group can even have to be thought of whereas making a programme resolution to be used of an HIV vaccine at giant scale. Till that point, behavioural modifications and mixture anti-HIV remedy will stay as two major parts in the intervention bundle the place an HIV vaccine may very well be an vital add on ingredient.

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