India's government restores funding for HIV-AIDS program

NEW DELHI: India's federal government said it will restore funding to the country's HIV-AIDS program months after it cut its contribution and asked regional governments to fill in the gaps.

Health Minister J P Nadda said late Tuesday the government was committed to combatting HIV-AIDS and that the federal government would resume fully funding India's National AIDS Control Program. Nadda was speaking at an event to mark World AIDS day.

Health activists had criticised the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi when it slashed funding for the program in February.

India's AIDS program has largely been seen as a success but it began to signs of breaking down last year as payments to companies that provided drugs to the program were delayed. Those problems were made worse when the government cut its share of funding for the program.

As state governments scrambled to find funds, there were reports of shortages of condoms and anti-retroviral drugs as well as syringes for needle-exchange programs. Across the country health workers complained of not being paid for months.

Government data released Tuesday showed that India recorded 86,000 new HIV infections in 2015, compared to 128,000 in 2007, but the rate of decline has slowed.