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India may be on the verge of introducing PrEP to combat HIV crisis

India may be on the verge of introducing PrEP to combat HIV crisis

LGBTIs marching in India to promote HIV awareness.

India might soon make PrEP available to men who have sex with men (MSM) and trans women.

PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) is a highly effective HIV preventative daily treatment. It is available for free or at subsidized rate including, Australia, New Zealand and France.

The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has indicated it is planning to study the effectiveness of PrEP in high-risk groups. Those high risk groups include MSM and trans women.

It conducted trials in the states of Kolkata and Karnataka and wants to extend the project to other parts of the country.

These plans have prompted the National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO) of India to make PrEP widely available.

More than 2.1 million people live with HIV in India, which has the third largest HIV epidemic in the world. It is one of 10 countries in the Asia Pacific which accounts for 95% of new HIV diagnoses.

But only about between 500 and 700 people are currently taking PrEP in India according to PrEPWatch.

That might all be about to change, with NACO deputy director-general, R.S. Gupta, telling The Hindu one of its priorities it introduce PrEP. The introduction of PrEP was also slated in the National Strategic Plan for HIV/AIDS and STI 2017-2024.

‘We are working on it and if a decision to introduce it is taken, we will develop a model to identify districts requiring introduction of PrEP,’ he said.

Following the success of the trials the ICMR said NACO must now make the call to introduce PrEP nationally.

‘Based on the results of this pilot, we hope NACO will soon take a call on introducing PrEP in the country,’ said former senior ICMR scientist, Nomita Chandhiok.

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