Cuts cloud AIDS fight

The Telegraph
Original Article:

New Delhi, March 1: The proposed cut in the Centre’s budget outlay for the AIDS control programme has triggered dismay among people infected with the human immunodeficiency virus, who say the programme has already faced stock-outs of drugs, test kits and condoms.

The budget has proposed Rs 1,397 crore for the department of AIDS control under the health ministry – a 22 per cent drop from last year’s allocation but slightly higher than the revised 2014-15 estimate of Rs 1,300 crore.

While the allocation for procurement of drugs, test kits and equipment will go up to Rs 540 crore from Rs 452 crore last year, the outlays for condom distribution and information, education and communication (IEC) have been slashed.

The condom distribution programme, initially allocated Rs 152 crore last year, will receive only Rs 106 crore this year while IEC funding will drop from Rs 51 crore to Rs 42 crore.

"Condom distribution and IEC are key components of efforts to prevent the spread of HIV within high-risk groups and in the general population," said Raman Chawla, an advocacy officer with Lawyer’s Collective, a non-government agency tracking HIV control efforts.

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