Indians in Delhi to Receive HIV/AIDS Support

30/05/2012 – The government of Delhi has announced plans to financially assist children and persons affected by the HIV/AIDS pandemic.

The government of Delhi in India has announced budgetary provisions for the support of people living with HIV and AIDS for the coming year.

Poverty-stricken patients living with the virus will be given 1,000 rupees (CAN$18), while HIV-positive orphaned children will be given 2,050 rupees ($38) per month. Other children will receive 1,750 rupees ($32) each month according to the 2012-2013 budget,

“There are about 10,000 HIV/ AIDS patients registered with us for anti-retroviral treatment," Health Minister AK Walia told the Time of India. "These patients need extra nutrition and balanced diet to cope with their compromised immune system.”

According to data from the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), HIV prevalence in India is roughly 0.3 per cent, affecting as many as 33.4 million people. About 2.1 million children under the age of 15 are also HIV-positive. HIV prevalence is fairly low compared to many other developing countries—such as  Swaziland, where it has reached almost 26 per cent.

There is much social stigma surrounding the disease as well as a lack of accurate information. Determining the number of children orphaned by the disease is difficult and estimates vary. In total, India is home to 31 million orphaned children of all causes. Some sources put the number of children who have lost one or both or their parents to AIDS-related illnesses above one million.

According to the website of the charity Crossroads International, “India today is home to the largest number of AIDS orphans in the world (UN statistics) and second only to South Africa in the number of people living with HIV/AIDS."

Citing media coverage, Reuters reports that government spending on health as a percentage of the country’s gross national product is among the lowest on the planet. At 1.2 per cent per year, India lags behind China (2.3 per cent) and Europe and the United States (6 to 8 per cent).

There are, however, plans to more than double health care expenditure, Reuters reports. In doing so, health-related spending would be increased to about 2.5 per cent of India’s GDP by 2017 and up to 3 per cent by 2022.

Delhi’s new healthcare budget also announced plans for improved vaccination coverage for children for tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis, hepatitis B and influenza. Measures to lower the costs of blood storage and transfusions will also be introduced, as will improvements to ambulance coverage, dialysis access, infrastructure and hospital beds.