Monday May 27, 2019

Now Comes a Pill That May Help Curb 2.7 Lakh HIV Cases in India

However, the authors noted that a nationwide PrEP rollout would be quite costly

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School girls light candles in the shape of a ribbon during a HIV/AIDS awareness campaign ahead of World Aids Day, in Ahmedabad, India, Nov. 30, 2016. (VOA)

Paired with a biannual testing programme, a combination drug used to prevent HIV infection has the potential to improve average per-person survival by nearly one year and block more than 270,000 HIV transmissions in India over a period of 15 years, says a study.

The once-a-day pill, called pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), can reduce the risk of HIV acquisition by over 85 per cent when taken consistently.

The new study, published in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases, suggests that making PrEP available to men who have sex with men (MSM) and people who inject drugs (PWID) in India may be a cost-effective way of curbing the epidemic in the country.

“We know PrEP helps stop the spread of infection; the question is whether it is a good use of limited resources? Our study shows that PrEP is a cost-effective strategy for both MSM and PWID in India. For these groups, especially in areas with high HIV incidence, PrEP is worth rolling out,” says lead and corresponding author Pooyan Kazemian of the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) in the US.

Using a widely-published mathematical model to project clinical and economic outcomes of HIV disease, the authors compared various prevention and testing programmes – including annual or biannual HIV testing alone, as well as PrEP paired with HIV testing – that could help reduce HIV infection and therefore improve survival for these high-risk groups.

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Participants hold placards in the shape of the red ribbon, the universal symbol of awareness and support for those living with HIV, as a hot air balloon is released during an awareness campaign ahead of World AIDS Day in Kolkata, India. VOA

Their findings suggest that PrEP would increase survival substantially by reducing infection risk, while more frequent HIV testing would provide little additional benefit.

“While the World Health Organization recommends quarterly HIV testing for those on PrEP, our analysis identifies PrEP with semi-annual testing as the cost-effective HIV prevention strategy for MSM and PWID in India,” said co-author Nagalingeswaran Kumarasamy of the Voluntary Health Services in Chennai.

However, the authors noted that a nationwide PrEP rollout would be quite costly.

Also Read- Chatting on Food Habits Makes Kids Healthier: Study

If nearly 60 per cent of MSM and PWID across India participated in the programme, it would increase HIV care expenditures by over $900 million over a five-year period, the study said.

“Our findings suggest that geographic areas of highest HIV incidence should be targeted first to reduce the budget required,” said co-author Nomita Chandhiok of the Indian Council of Medical Research in New Delhi. (IANS)

Next Story

India Ends all Imports of Iranian Oil, Says Washington Ambassador

Trump last year pulled out of a multinational pact under which Iran drastically scaled back its nuclear work in return for promises of sanctions relief

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FILE - A worker walks atop a tanker wagon to check the freight level at an oil terminal on the outskirts of Kolkata, India. VOA

India has ended all imports of oil from Iran, its ambassador in Washington says, becoming the latest country to grudgingly comply with threatened U.S. sanctions.

India had already sharply decreased its imports from Iran and bought one million tonnes of crude in April, the last month before Washington stepped up its pressure campaign against Tehran and ended all exemptions to sanctions, Ambassador Harsh Vardhan Shringla said. “That’s it. After that, we haven’t imported any,” Shringla told reporters Thursday during a briefing on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s election victory.

No Venezuela oil, either

Shringla said that energy-hungry India has also ended all imports from Venezuela because it considered itself a partner of the United States. But he said the shift had caused pain at home, with Iran formerly supplying 10 percent of India’s oil needs.

Calling Iran “an extended neighbor” of India with long-standing cultural links, Shringla declined to say whether New Delhi shared President Donald Trump’s concerns about Tehran. “This is an issue that has to be dealt with, really, between the United States and Iran. We are only, in many senses, looking at it as a third party,” Shringla said.

But he added: “We would not like to see a move towards any escalation in any way in that area, for the simple reason that we depend very heavily on stability in that part of the world.”

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FILE – U.S. President Donald Trump speaks to reporters after signing a proclamation declaring his intention to withdraw from the JCPOA Iran nuclear agreement in the Diplomatic Room at the White House in Washington, May 8, 2018. VOA

Trump last year pulled out of a multinational pact under which Iran drastically scaled back its nuclear work in return for promises of sanctions relief.

The Trump administration has instead ramped up economic pressure on Iran and recently deployed military assets, including an aircraft carrier strike group, to the area.
The United States as of May 2 ended exemptions it had given to eight governments from its unilateral order to stop buying Iranian oil.

Turkey stops imports

Turkey, which enjoyed a waiver and vocally disagreed with the U.S. policy, has also stopped importing oil from Iran, a Turkish official said this week. State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus welcomed the news from Turkey.

ALSO READ: India, China, Turkey Silently Purchasing Iran’s Crude Oil as US Ban Begins

“We want the whole world to comply with these sanctions, and we’re grateful for our partners and allies that are respecting them,” she told reporters. The Indian ambassador, however, voiced confidence that U.S. sanctions would not affect its partnership in developing Iran’s Chabahar port.

India wants to use the port to ship supplies into Afghanistan in a detour from its archrival Pakistan, which historically backed the Taliban. “I think it is in the interest of both our countries and all others concerned to ensure that that lifeline continues for the people of Afghanistan,” Shringla said. (VOA)