Millennium Post

Mandatory testing for HIV/AIDS counterproductive, says Vardhan

Mandatory testing for HIV/AIDS in India may scare ‘away a large number of suspected cases from getting detected and treated’, the government opined on Tuesday even as it stated that the country has an estimated 7.77 lakh HIV/AIDS patients.

‘Considerable thought has been given to the issue. The government feels that there is no public health rationale for mandatory testing of a person for HIV/AIDS. On the other hand, such an approach could be counter- productive as it may scare away a large number of suspected cases from getting detected and treated,’ health and family welfare minister Harsh Vardhan on Tuesday told Rajya Sabha in a written reply.

HIV testing done on a voluntary basis and with appropriate pre-test and post-test counselling is considered to be a better strategy and is in line with World Health Organisation guidelines, he said.
As per the National AIDS Prevention and Control Policy, no individual should be made to undergo mandatory testing for HIV.

Vardhan, however, said that in case of marriage, if one side insists on a test for checking HIV status, it should be carried out to the satisfaction of the person concerned. Meanwhile, according to the ministry, ‘Cumulative number of HIV/AIDS patients in the country is 7,77,485.’

The latest state-wise break-up of HIV/AIDS patients released by the ministry says that the number of HIV/AIDS patients is highest in Andhra Pradesh (1,70,986) followed by Maharashtra (1,43,578), Karnataka (1,07,664) and Tamil Nadu (80,685). But the Ministry claimed that the steps taken by the government were sufficient to fight the disease. "HIV/AIDS prevalence in the country has decreased to 0.27 per cent (in 2011) from 0.45 per cent (in 2002)," it said

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