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GS Paper 2 – Issues relating to development and management of social sector/ services relating to health, education and human resources.


What is HIV?

 Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is a virus that attacks immune cells called CD4 cells, which are a type of T cell. These are white blood cells that move around the body, detecting faults and anomalies in cells as well as infections. When HIV targets and infiltrates these cells, it reduces the body's ability to combat other diseases. This increases the risk and impact of opportunistic infections and cancers. However, a person can carry HIV without experiencing symptoms for a long time. HIV is a lifelong infection. However, receiving treatment and managing the disease effectively can prevent HIV from reaching a severe level and reduce the risk of a person passing on the virus.

What is AIDS?

AIDS is the most advanced stage of HIV infection. Once HIV infection develops into AIDS, infections and cancer pose a greater risk. Without treatment, HIV infection is likely to develop into AIDS as the immune system gradually wears down. However, advances in ART mean than an ever-decreasing number of people progress to this stage. By the close of 2015, around 1,122,900 people were HIV-positive. To compare, figures from 2016 show that medical professionals diagnosed AIDS in an estimated 18,160 people.


HIV transmission to another person

People transmit HIV in bodily fluids, including: Blood and breast milk semen, vaginal secretions and  anal fluids. To transmit HIV, these fluids must contain enough of the virus. If a person has 'undetectable' HIV, they will not transmit HIV to another person, even if after a transfer of fluids. Undetectable HIV is when the amount of HIV in the body is so low that a blood test cannot detect it. People may be able to achieve undetectable levels of HIV by closely following the prescribed course of treatment.



According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), there were about 37.9 million affected by HIV by the end of 2018 and 1.7 million were newly infected by it in the same year. In 2018, 770,000 people died of HIV related causes and 500,000 new cases and deaths are expected by 2020.

According to the National Aids Control Organisation, in India there were over 21 lakh people living with HIV in 2017, out of which roughly 9 lakh were women. Maharashtra has the highest prevalence of people living with HIV, with 15 per cent of the cases, followed by Andhra Pradesh (13 per cent), Karnataka (12 per cent), Telangana (10 per cent) and Tamil Nadu (7 per cent).


Treatment for HIV

No cure is currently available for HIV or AIDS. However, treatments can stop the progression of the condition and allow most people living with HIV the opportunity to live a long and relatively healthy life. Starting ART early in the progression of the virus is crucial. This improves quality of life, extends life expectancy and reduces the risk of transmission.

If an individual believes they have been exposed to the virus within the last 3 days, anti-HIV medications, called post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP), may be able to stop infection. Take PEP as soon as possible after potential contact with the virus.

Antiretroviral therapy (ART)

 Antiretroviral therapy (ART) is the use of HIV medicines to treat HIV infection. ART is recommended for everyone who has HIV. ART helps people with HIV live longer, healthier lives and reduces the risk of HIV transmission. People with HIV should start ART as soon as possible. In people with HIV who have the following conditions, it's especially important to start ART right away: pregnancy, AIDS, certain HIV-related illnesses and coinfections, and early HIV infection. (Early HIV infection is the period up to 6 months after infection with HIV.) Before starting ART, people with HIV should discuss the importance of medication adherence—taking HIV medicines every day and exactly as prescribed—with their health care provider.


World AIDS Day 2019

AIDS day was on December 1 and this year's theme was "Ending the HIV/AIDS Epidemic: Community by Community". This year marks the 21st World AIDS Day since its establishment in 1988, when James W. Bunn and Thomas Netter—two public health officers at the World Health Organization's Global Program on AIDS in Geneva—co-founded the day in an effort to destigmatize the disease.


Previous Year Questions

  1. Identify the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) that are related to health. Discuss the success of the actions taken by the Government for achieving the same. (2013)
  2. Public health system has limitation in providing universal health coverage. Do you think that private sector can help in bridging the gap? What other viable alternatives do you suggest? (2015)
  3. What do you understand by Fixed Dose drug Combinations (FDCs)? Discuss their merits and demerits. (2013)
  4. Can overuse and free availability of antibiotics without Doctor’s prescription, be contributors to the emergence of drug-resistant diseases in India? What are the available mechanisms for monitoring and control? Critically discuss the various issues involved. (2014)
  5. Though there have been several different estimates of poverty in India, all indicate reduction in poverty over time. Do you agree? Critically examine with reference to urban and rural poverty indicators. (2015)
  6. Professor Amartya Sen has advocated important reforms in the realms of primary education and primary health care. What are your suggestions to improve their status and performance? (2016)
  7. How is the government of India protecting traditional knowledge of medicine from patenting by pharmaceutical companies? (2019)