India is one of the largest and most populated countries in the world, with over one billion inhabitants. Of this number, it's estimated that around 2.4 million people are currently living with HIV. Despite being home to the world's second-largest population suffering from HIV/AIDS, the AIDS prevalence rate in India is lower than in many other countries. The spread of HIV in India is primarily restricted to the southern and north-eastern regions of the country and India has also been praised for its extensive anti-AIDS campaign. The main factors which have contributed to India's large HIV-infected population are extensive labor migration and low literacy levels in certain rural areas resulting in lack of awareness and gender disparity.

HIV emerged later in India than it did in many other countries. Infection rates soared throughout the 1990s, and today the epidemic affects all sectors of Indian society, not just the groups ? such as sex workers and truck drivers ? with which it was originally associated.

In 2006 UNAIDS estimated that there were 5.6 million people living with HIV in India, which indicated that there were more people with HIV in India than in any other country in the world.

In 2007, following the first survey of HIV among the general population, UNAIDS and NACO agreed on a new estimate ? between 2 million and 3.1 million people living with HIV.

In 2008 the figure was estimated to be 2.31 million.

In 2009 it was estimated that 2.4 million people were living with HIV in India, which equates to a prevalence of 0.3%. While this may seem low, because India's population is so large, it is third in the world in terms of greatest number of people living with HIV. With a population of around a billion, a mere 0.1% increase in HIV prevalence would increase the estimated number of people living with HIV by over half a million.

A recent study published in the British medical journal "The Lancet" in (2006) reported an approximately 30% decline in HIV infections among young women aged 15 to 24 years attending prenatal clinics in selected southern states of India from 2000 to 2004 where the epidemic is thought to be concentrated. The authors cautiously attribute observed declines to increased condom use by men who visit commercial sex workers and cite several pieces of corroborating evidence. Some efforts have been made to tailor educational literature to those with low literacy levels, mainly through local libraries as this is the most readily accessible locus of information for interested parties. Increased awareness regarding the disease and citizen's related rights is in line with the Universal Declaration on Human Rights.

The estimated adult HIV prevalence was 0.32% in 2008 and 0.31% in 2009. The states with high HIV prevalence rates include Manipur (1.40%), Andhra Pradesh (0.90%), Mizoram (0.81%), Nagaland (0.78%), Karnataka (0.63%) and Maharashtra (0.55%).

The adult HIV prevalence in India is declining from estimated level of 0.41% in 2000 through 0.36% in 2006 to 0.31% in 2009. Adult HIV prevalence at a national level has declined notably in many states, but variations still exist across the states. A decreasing trend is also evident in HIV prevalence among the young population of 15?24 years.

The estimated number of new annual HIV infections has declined by more than 50% over the past decade.