Home >News >India >Covid-19 limited 25 million Indian couples' access to contraceptives: UNAIDS

NEW DELH: Covid-19 pandemic has limited access to contraceptives for more than 25 million couples in India, according to a report released by UNAIDS on Thursday.

The World AIDS Day report 2020 also pointed out that among people living with HIV, approximately 35% of women aged 15 to 49 years faced discriminatory attitudes between 2014 and 2019.

The report showed there could be an estimated 123,000 to 293,000 new HIV infections and 69,000 to 148,000 AIDS-related deaths between 2020 and 2022 globally due to the pandemic’s long-term impact.

The report outlined that insufficient investment and action on HIV and other pandemics left the world exposed to covid-19. “Had health systems and social safety nets been even stronger, the world would have been better positioned to slow the spread of covid-19 and withstand its impact," said the report.

Covid-19 has shown that investments in health save lives and also provide a foundation for strong economies. "Health and HIV programmes must be fully funded, both in times of plenty and in times of economic crisis," it said.

The collective failure to invest sufficiently in comprehensive, rights-based, people-centred HIV responses has come at a terrible price, said Winnie Byanyima, Executive Director of UNAIDS, adding that implementing just the most politically palatable programmes will not turn the tide against covid-19 or end AIDS.

To get the global response back on track will require putting people first and tackling the inequalities on which epidemics thrive, Byanyima added.

As per the latest HIV estimates report of 2019 of the Government of India, the country is estimated to have around 23.49 lakh people living with HIV/AIDS (PLHIV) in 2019. The HIV epidemic has an overall decreasing trend in country with estimated annual new HIV infections declining by 37% between 2010 and 2019.

Public health experts hold that the pandemic has impacted the poorest and vulnerable populations.

“Home quarantining and the diversion of health resources to respond to the pandemic has limited the access to health services and made women, girls, and other vulnerable populations more susceptible to health risks such as reproductive health, HIV/AIDS, unintended pregnancies, and menstrual hygiene," said Poonam Muttreja, Executive Director of Population Foundation of India (PFI), a health advocacy and research non-governmental organization.

It is critical now that governments ensure uninterrupted supply of reversible methods of contraception and also increase the availability of self-care methods like condoms and oral contraceptives pills so that couples are able to adequately prevent unintended pregnancies and take some of the burden off the public health system, she added.

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