Thursday, July 20, 2006

India's economy could suffer if the country fails to check the spread of HIV/AIDS

BBC News:

Economic growth currently at 8% could fall by nearly 1% if the disease is not contained, it says.

But the head of India's main anti-Aids agency said the government's prevention drive could help reverse this.

More than five million Indians are infected with HIV and the UN says India now has more people with the virus than any other country in the world.

"Economic growth could decline by 0.86 percentage points... and per capita gross domestic product by 0.55 percentage points," over a 14-year period beginning in 2002, the National Council of Applied Economic Research (NCAER), a government-funded body, said.

It said the government needed to spend more on prevention programmes.

"It is time to see policy action against Aids as a growth-enhancing policy endeavour, and, first and foremost, dedicate adequate resources for this purpose," the report says.

The report identifies unskilled labourers in industries such as construction, chemicals, mining and quarrying as the most vulnerable to infection.

It also concluded that Aids could lead to increased poverty in India.

But Aids prevention organisations in India say that an aggressive campaign against the disease could head off the threat.

"The government of India's scaled-up response in financing and energy will halt and reverse the trend the epidemic has shown over the next four or five years," said Ruben del Prado of UNAids.

"We have already found that in high-risk states, the growth of HIV infections can be reversed with the government pushing an aggressive campaign against the spread of the disease," added Sujata Rao, director of India's National Aids Control Organisation.

HIV risk to Indian economic boom

HIV/AIDS epidemic to dent India's economic progress


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