AIDS welfare cost may effect growth: Report

Last Updated: Fri, Apr 01, 2011 14:10 hrs

New Delhi, April 1 (IANS) Even as India has recorded a drop in the number of infections, a new report on HIV/AIDS by UNAIDS warns that the epidemic, if not contained in time, will have adverse effects on the nation's economic growth.

The report 'Asian Economies in Rapid Transition: HIV Now and Through 2021', which makes a comparative study of five Asian nations, India, China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam, highlights that the welfare cost is high on the economies.

'Despite low prevalence of HIV and AIDS in the six countries of rapid transition, the welfare cost of the epidemic in terms of lost years of life of adults and the knock-on effects on loss of parenting for orphans, add up to substantial burden,' the report released Friday said.

This may result in loss of several years of economic growth for India with the loss mounting in the case of India 'to a potential loss of several years of economic growth if the epidemic is not contained,' the report said.

Over five million people are living with HIV and AIDS in Asia. According to the report, the number has tripled between 2004 and 2007.

The report highlights that public health spending in the six countries falls short of amount needed to cover the current needs of the HIV/AIDS programme.

It recommended making the present resources more efficient to get higher returns.

'With funding threatened by competing priorities...stakeholders need to focus more on 'making the money work' by allocating the resources in more efficient and targeted manner to achieve maximum impact,' said the report.

According to the latest figures from National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO), total estimated number of HIV/AIDS patients in India was 2.4 million in 2009. According to estimates, the number of new annual infections has declined by more than 50 percent over the past decade.

The report says India has 1,58,000 people receiving the anti-retroviral treatment.

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