Burden of HIV/AIDS in SAARC


HIV/AIDS continues to be a major public health problem in the SAARC Region. All eight Member States of the SAARC region are designated as low prevalence countries. On the basis of latest available information this region is home for estimated number of 2.6 million HIV infected people and 0.06 million AIDS deaths in 2019. Table 02 shows the estimated number of People Living with HIV (PLHIV) in eight Member States of the SAARC Region in the year 2019. Three countries namely India, Nepal and Pakistan account for majority of the regional burden. The first HIV infected persons were diagnosed in 1986 in India and Pakistan. By 1993, all SAARC Member States had reported the existence of HIV infection in their countries.

Table 02: Estimated Number of PLHIV, New HIV Infections, AIDS Deaths, Prevalence Rate and Incident Rate in SAARC Region-2019

Country Population(‘000)a Estimated No. of PLHA HIV Prevalence Rate (%) Estimated New HIV infection  (all ages) HIV Incidence per 1000 population AIDS- related Deaths
Afghanistan 38000 11000 <0.1 1500 0.04 <500
Bangladesh* 163000 14000 < 0.01 1600 0.01 580
Bhutan* 760 1300 0.3 <100 0.11 <100
India** 1366000 2348860 0.22 69220 0.05 58960
Maldives* 530 N/A N/A N/A NA NA
Nepal 29000 30000 0.1 790 0.03 740
Pakistan 217000 190000 0.1 25000 0.12 6800
Sri- Lanka 21000 3600 < 0.1 < 200 <0.01 <200
Regional 1835 million 2.6 million   98110   67080

Source: UNAIDS data 2020, *SAARC Epidemiological response on HIV/AIDS-2019, ** India HIV estimates 2019 report, a WHO Global Tuberculosis report-2020

The overall adult HIV prevalence in SAARC region remains below 1%. However, there are important variations existing between countries. Of the estimated number of 2.6 million PLHIV in SAARC region, 2.3 million were living in India in 2019 (Table 02).

Table 03: Progress towards 90-90-90 Targets in SAARC Region 2019

Country Percent of people living with HIV who know their status Percent of people living with HIV who are on ART Percent of people living with HIV who have suppressed viral loads
Afghanistan 27 10 N/A
Bangladesh** 53 31 84
Bhutan* 47 37 N/A
India* 79.4 82 68
Maldives* N/A NA N/A
Nepal 78 63 55
Pakistan 21 12 NA
Sri- Lanka*** 64 80 86

Source: UNAIDS data 2020, *SAARC Epidemiological response on HIV/AIDS-2019** Data sent by NASC, Bangladesh-2020, ***National STD/AIDS Control Programme Annual Report 2019, Sri Lanka


Table 04: Estimated Size of Key Populations in SAARC Region-2019

Country Sex Worker Men who have sex with men People who inject drugs Transgender Prisoners
Afghanistan 11000 10000 26000 NA 2800
Bangladesh 140000 101700 33100 10200 73400
Bhutan* 1044 72 55 22 240
India 657800 238200 127500 26000 433000
Maldives* NA NA NA NA NA
Nepal 67300 60300 30900 21500 22000
Pakistan 228800 832200 113400 52400 80500
Sri- Lanka 30000 73800 2700 2200 122000
Regional 1135944 1316272 333655 112322 733940

Source: http://aidsinfo.unaids.org/data sheet 2019, *SAARC Epidemiological response on HIV/AIDS-2019

Country wise estimated size of key populations has been shown in table 04. In the SAARC region, 1.1 million estimated size of Sex worker (SW), 1.3 million Men who have sex with men (MSM), 333655 people who inject drugs (PWID), 112322 transgender and 733940 prisoners were estimated key populations in year 2019.

Table 05: Elimination of Mother – to – Child Transmission in SAARC Region-2019

Country Pregnant women needing ARV for PMTCT Pregnant women who received ARV for PMTCT ARV for PMTCT Coverage (%)
Afghanistan <500 24
Bangladesh** 35 29 82
Bhutan* 6 6 100
India 22617 13878 61
Maldives* NA NA NA
Nepal <500 123
Pakistan 3600 417 12
Sri- Lanka NA NA NA
Regional 26258 14477 55

Source: UNAIDS data 2020, *SAARC Epidemiological response on HIV/AIDS-2019, ** Data sent by NASC Bangladesh-2020

Elimination of Mother to child transmission in the SAARC Region there were 26258 pregnant women needing ARV for PMTCT, 14477 pregnant women who received ARV for PMTCT and 55 Percent ARV for PMTCT Coverage as shown in table 05.About 1.4 million people were receiving ART in year 2019 and 86500 deaths were averted due to ART in 2019 in SAARC Region (Table 06).

 Table 06: Number of People Living With HIV Receiving ART and Deaths Averted Due to ART-2019

Country No. of People receiving ART Deaths averted  due to ART*
Afghanistan 1044 <200
Bangladesh** 4009 <500
Bhutan 483 NA
India* 1373323 83000
Maldives* 11 NA
Nepal 18628 1100
Pakistan 22947 2400
Sri- Lanka 1846 <200
Regional 1.4 million 86500

Source: UNAIDS data 2020, *SAARC Epidemiological response on HIV/AIDS-2019, ** Data sent by NASC, Bangladesh-2020



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Message of H.E. Secretary General-SAARC-on the occasion World TB Day 2022

“Invest to End TB. Save Lives.”   

Every Year, the World TB Day is observed on 24 March to commemorate the discovery of Mycobacterium Tuberculosis by Dr. Robert Koch in 1882. This Day provides an opportunity to raise public awareness; sensitize communities for broader commitment from all stakeholders; and gather support from various collaborating partners for the fight against this menace.

TB is still a leading infectious killer disease despite a substantial investment for its treatment and prevention. The major causes for high cases of TB are rapid urbanization, high-density of population, air pollution (indoor and outdoor) and migration with drastically rising incidences of diabetes, escalating drug resistance, and an unregulated private health sector. Similarly, social determinants of health, such as education, employment, social support, family income and nutrition, also augment the TB incidence.

While we are still battling with COVID-19, many parts of the SAARC region are facing severe economic and social situations. This has adversely affected anti-TB activities of the Member States. There are funding gaps for TB activities, which are further exacerbated by economic setbacks triggered by the pandemic, while additional funding is required to build back effectively from its adverse impacts. The theme chosen by the World Health Organization for this year’s World TB Day, “Invest to End TB. Save
Lives.” is, therefore, very significant.

I congratulate the SAARC Tuberculosis and HIVIAIDS Centre (STAC) for facilitating the regional campaign to control TB through active involvement of the National Programmes of the Member States of SAARC, which have adopted WHO,s Global Stop TB Partnership strategy, envisioning a TB-free world by 2030.However, the national strategic plans have also been adversely affected by COVID-19, leading to an increase in TB mortality, and a decline in the number of people diagnosed and treated for TB, thereby affecting the rights of people with TB.

Though the recent achievements of the Member States in TB control are encour agrng, there is a greater need to ensure effective implementation of TB control activities by investing resources to achieve the 2030 target. I am confident that the esteemed Member States will make every endeavor in this respect.

Kathmandu, 24 March 2022

By : -Esala Ruwan Weerakoon

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