India has the third largest HIV epidemic in the world and in the Northeast area, states with the highest prevalence are Manipur, Mizoram and Nagaland. Inside the issue of December, we attempt to deliver exposé on what caused the outbreak in the Northeast region and how the State AIDS Control Societies based in all the states are tackling with this fatal disease. First of December marks the 28th World AIDS Day and it is our responsibility to raise awareness of this pandemic caused by the spread of HIV infection. This auspicious Day is one of the eight official global public health campaigns marked by the World Health Organisation. Despite the virus only being identified in 1984, AIDS has killed more than 36 million people worldwide and an estimated 35.3 million are living with HIV-AIDS. World AIDS Day is important for each and every individual because it reminds us and the Government that HIV has not gone away; that there is still a crucial need to raise money, elevate awareness, and fight prejudice and show support and solidarity with the millions of people living with HIV. One simple way to do this is wearing a ribbon!
The SACS in the Northeastern states are tirelessly working on better HIV surveillance and targeted interventions for groups such as transgender people, migrants and truckers, with the latter acting as gateways for HIV into the general population. While antiretroviral treatment is free, uptake remains low and requires a dramatic scaling up especially in the wake of the new 2013 WHO treatment guidelines. Moreover, stigma and discrimination remains a significant barrier preventing key affected groups and those at high risk of HIV transmission from accessing vital healthcare services. HIV-AIDS stigma exists around the world in a lot of different ways, including ostracism, rejection, discrimination and avoidance. Let us fight these prejudices and show love and support to all our people living with HIV around us.