Health authorities in India have admitted they have lost more than $1bn a day on treating HIV, according to a report released today.
The report, released by the Indian Health Service, said that the government was unable to cover its costs and the cost of HIV treatment, including medication and tests, rose by about 50 per cent in the first three months of this year.
According to the report, the total cost of treating HIV and its prevention has risen by more than a third over the past five years.
The total costs of HIV-related treatment in India are expected to grow to $3.4 billion in 2019, from $2.6 billion in 2020, according the report.
“As the number of HIV cases in India has reached a critical level, there has been a massive increase in HIV treatment and diagnosis, which has caused a severe shortage of drugs,” said Dr Shailesh Kumar, head of the National AIDS Control Authority, India.
“The country has an HIV epidemic that is increasing at an alarming rate, and the government is in a desperate need of an effective and sustainable solution to address the crisis.”
The report said that HIV is now more prevalent than malaria, tuberculosis and malaria combined, and that it was the country’s second leading cause of death.
Its death toll now stands at 4,056, a jump of more than 700 per cent over the same period last year.
More than half of the cases in 2016 were attributed to HIV, which accounted for 7,000 new cases in 2017.
India has one of the world’s highest HIV rates and the country has the world first highest death toll from HIV in the world.
Dr Kumar said the health service had not been able to address this situation because the government did not have a plan for addressing it.
According to India’s National AIDS control Board, the death toll in India rose from 6,921 in 2017 to nearly 7,700 in 2018, an increase of about 100 per cent.
India’s HIV prevalence has risen in the past few years as the country moved from a global HIV pandemic to one in which HIV was the dominant cause of disease.
This year, the government announced a strategy to tackle the pandemic, but its implementation has been hampered by political uncertainty and lack of money.
Some analysts say that a better approach could be to invest in HIV prevention and testing, particularly to prevent new infections.
India has a high rate of HIV and tuberculosis infections, particularly among young people, and is the second-highest country for HIV-positive people in the Asia-Pacific region.