HIV/AIDS in India: Survey Results for Country and Eight States

(March 2006) With funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Population Reference Bureau has published five chartbooks on HIV/AIDS for the country of India and for the Indian states of Andhra Pradesh, Delhi, Karnataka, and Tamil Nadu. In addition, PRB has published three shorter fact sheets on HIV/AIDS in the Indian states of Marahastra, Manipur, and Nagaland. All of these publications are bilingual—in English and the appropriate Indian state language.

In these states and elsewhere in India, programs for HIV/AIDS education, testing, and care and support have expanded rapidly. Although the national population infection rate remains low—at about 0.9 percent of the adult population—there are an estimated 5.1 million cases. India’s large population brings special challenges with it, such as the task of educating a large and diverse population on the dangers of HIV and providing care and support to the world’s second largest HIV-positive population.

  • In Andhra Pradesh the percentage of pregnant women testing positive for HIV at antenatal clinics was India ‘s highest at 2.0. This group is often thought representative of the general population—in other words, not necessarily engaging in high-risk behavior. The state, however, has addressed the issue on many fronts, with programs reaching down to the village level. (December 2005)
  • Although HIV infection in Delhi is comparatively low today, prevalence at sentinel sites where testing is conducted has been rising. As a large and rapidly growing city, Delhi faces many unique challenges. Large numbers of migrants and slum populations require constant efforts in HIV education as the audience grows and changes. (December 2005)
  • There are an estimated 5 million people living with HIV/AIDS in India. This figure is nearly 1 percent of the population, but much of the general public doesn’t see the infection as a threat. (November 2003)
  • Karnataka is one of six HIV/AIDS high prevalence states in India, with over 500,000 adults infected with the virus. (December 2004)
  • One in every five AIDS cases in India is in Maharashtra. Over one-half of commercial sex workers in the state test positive for HIV, as does 39 percent of injecting drug users. (November 2003)
  • Manipur was one of the first Indian states to be identified as a high HIV/AIDS prevalence state. Intravenous drug users make up nearly 40 percent of cases in Manipur; nearly the same percent know someone who has died from AIDS. (November 2003)
  • Long linked to intravenous drug users (IDUs), HIV is spreading into the general population in Nagaland. HIV prevalence among injecting drug users there is over 10 percent, and the threat is growing as the epidemic continues. (November 2003)
  • In Tamil Nadu, the earliest state to recognize and combat the spread of HIV, it appears that prevalence levels have been coming down. Prevalence among pregnant women has declined from about 1.0 percent in the late 1990s to 0.7 percent in 2004. (December 2005)

Carl Haub is senior demographer and holder of the Conrad Taeuber Chair of Population Information at the Population Reference Bureau.