JP Nadda launches ‘viral load test for people living with HIV’

  •  Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare Shri J P Nadda on 26 February 2018,  launched the ‘‘Viral Load testing for all People Living with HIV/AIDS (PLHIV)” in New Delhi.
  • The initiative will provide free of cost viral load testing for 12 lakh PLHIV on treatment in the country at least once a year.
  • Treat All: After ‘Treat All’, Viral Load test is a big step forward in treating and monitoring people living with HIV. As per the Union Minister, this Viral Load test is of immense importance to monitor the effectiveness of treatment of patients taking lifelong Antiretroviral Therapy. WHO has announced a global policy to treat all people with HIV in September 2015, with the full guidelines published in 2016. Anyone infected with HIV should begin antiretroviral therapy (ART) as soon after diagnosis as possible. India on 4 May 2017, has adopted policy to treat all people living with HIV.
  • How: The routine viral load testing will optimize the utilization of 1st line regimens, thus preventing drug resistance and ensuring the longevity of people living with HIV.
  • “Viral Load testing will empower medical officers at ART to detect failure on first line treatment early and therefore save PLHIV from developing resistance to drugs. It will also help in strengthening ‘Mission Sampark’ in tracking LFU (Loss to Follow Up) PLHIV.
  • The Union Health Minister informed that in 2017, India revised the Antiretroviral Therapy (ART) treatment protocols to initiate all PLHIV on ART “Treat All”. “This ‘Treat All’ initiative was started to ensure that treatment is started early and the virus transmission is curtailed both at the individual and the community level. Now about 12 lakh PLHIV are availing the benefit of free treatment from more than 530 ART centres,” ShriNadda stated.
  • Ending stigma is important: Laying stress on addressing stigma & discrimination towards HIV, ShriNadda said that ending stigma is of paramount importance to enable persons infected and affected with HIV access health services.
  • HIV/AIDS Act: To facilitate reduction in stigma and discrimination, the long pending HIV/AIDS Act has been passed, which is an historical step. Very few countries globally have such a law to protect rights of people infected with HIV. ShriNadda elaborated.
  • The Health Minister further informed that the key provisions of HIV/AIDS Bill are prohibition of discrimination, informed consent, non-disclosure of HIV status, anti-retroviral therapy & opportunistic infection management, protection of property of affected children, safe working environment and appointment of ombudsman in every State.
  • National Guidelines for HIV-1 Viral Load Laboratory Testing: Shri J P Nadda also released the National Guidelines for HIV-1 Viral Load Laboratory Testing, National Operational Guidelines for Viral Load Testing, Standard Operating Procedure for HIV-1 Quant Assay with CBNAAT and Guidelines on Quality Monitoring System for Outsourced Viral Load Tests.
  • 90-90-90 target: It is a UNAIDS programme. In December 2013, the UNAIDS Programme Coordinating Board called on UNAIDS to support country- and region-led efforts to establish new targets for HIV treatment scale-up beyond 2015. Then this programme was launched. It has following targets:
    • By 2020, 90% of all people living with HIV will know their HIV status.
    • By 2020, 90% of all people with diagnosed HIV infection will receive sustained antiretroviral therapy.
    • By 2020, 90% of all people receiving antiretroviral therapy will have viral suppression.
    • India is committed to achieving the global 90-90-90 target by 2020.
  • With launch of Test and Treat, there is increase in number of PLHIV needing treatment and thus the Viral Load testing. With increase in number of PLHIV on treatment the monitoring needs have also increased. For achieving this, NACO has scaled up the viral load testing facility in the country to monitor the viral load suppression.


  • In December 2016, WHO issued a global progress report, which showed that: 
    • There were approximately 36.7 million people living with HIV at the end of 2016.
    • 20.9 million people living with HIV were receiving ART by mid-2017.
    • 7 out of 10 pregnant women living with HIV received antiretroviral treatment.

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