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Antiretroviral Therapy (ART) Initiative

Why is it in the news?

  • Free Antiretroviral Therapy (ART) initiative celebrated twenty years of providing free treatment to Persons Living with HIV (PLHIV).

 More about the news

  • The Free Antiretroviral Therapy (ART) initiative for Persons Living with HIV (PLHIV) began on April 1, 2004.
  • ART involves the treatment of HIV-infected individuals using anti-HIV drugs, typically a combination known as highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) that suppresses HIV replication.
  • The initiative was launched due to the emergence of HIV/AIDS in the early 1980s, initially considered a death sentence and met with fear, stigma, and discrimination, with limited access to medications, including the first antiretroviral drug, AZT (zidovudine).
  • As of 2023, the prevalence of HIV in the 15-49 age group has decreased to 0.20%, with an estimated 2.4 million PLHIV, and India’s share globally has decreased to 3%.
  • India’s annual new HIV infections have declined by 48% compared to the global average of 31% since 2010.

Other Related Initiatives

  • Complementary initiatives include free diagnostic facilities, prevention of parent-to-child transmission of HIV (PPTCT) services, introduction of Dolutegravir (DTG) in 2020, and rapid ART initiation within seven days of HIV diagnosis, adopted in 2021.
  • The ongoing fifth phase of India’s National AIDS Control Programme (NACP) aims, by 2025, to reduce annual new HIV infections by 80%, reduce AIDS-related mortalities by 80%, and eliminate vertical transmission of HIV and syphilis.

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