According to the National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO) India has 5.2 million HIV-positive people and an HIV-prevalence of 0.9 percent of adults - about the same as the global average, or the sero-prevalence in North America, Eastern Europe and Central Asia. India's epidemic is concentrated in some 200 districts, most of them in six of the country's 28 states - namely Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Manipur, Nagaland and Tamil Nadu - where HIV-prevalence is more than one percent. There are also limited data on the number of children infected with HIV in India. NACO has not published an official estimate, while numbers published elsewhere vary between 50,000 and 300,000 positive children. However it is likely that for every child who is infected there are another fifty who have an HIV-positive parent or who have been orphaned by AIDS. Collectively they make up the "children affected by HIV/AIDS" - the subjects of this study. The research hypothesis was that many affected children are excluded from services and benefits which are available to other children in their communities - including education, health care and the support of their extended families and communities. While this belief is widely supported by networks of HIV-positive people and NGOs working in the field of HIV/AIDS, no formal studies had been conducted in India to test it. The study objectives were to establish whether this hypothesis is true and, if so, the nature and severity of barriers to those services, and what steps can be taken to overcome them. The underlying rationale was that removing barriers to mainstream services could materially benefit a large proportion of children affected by HIV/AIDS, and reduce the number of children requiring targeted interventions.
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