More than 21 lakh people have been infected with HIV virus in India, which has the third largest population of those affected by the disease, Lok Sabha was informed on Friday.
"India has the third largest number of people living with HIV in the world. The other two countries having higher numbers are South Africa (68 lakh) and Nigeria (34 lakhs) - source UNAIDS estimates 2014," Union Health Minister J P Nadda said in a written reply.
He said that though about 21.17 lakh people are estimated to be living with HIV (PLHIV), yet Antiretroviral Therapy (ART) provides universal access to "comprehensive, equitable, stigma-free, quality care, support and treatment services to all people living with HIV/AIDS (PLHIV).
"The total number of patients with CD4 count of less than 350 is estimated as 13,45,678. Out of this, the number of people on ART is 9.25 lakh making a coverage rate of 69 per cent," Nadda said.
He said that at present there are 524 ART centres and 1,094 link ART centres in the country providing free antiretroviral treatment, treatment for opportunistic infections and counselling services to 9.25 lakh PLHIV.
He said that based on HIV prevalence in different parts of the country, ART centres and Link ART centres are scaled up every year to match the demand.
In addition, a total of 350 Care and Support centres have been established through civil society organisation which complement the services provided by ART centres through counselling, outreach and linkage to need based other government welfare schemes and services.
During the last three years, PLHIV on ART has been increasing as it was 6.32 lakhs in March 2013, 7.59 lakh in March 2014, 8.51 in March 2015 and 9.25 lakh in January 2016.