Objective: To determine the rates of death and infection from HIV in India.
Design: Nationally representative survey of deaths.
Setting: 1.1 million homes in India. Population 123,000 deaths at all ages from 2001 to 2003.
Main outcome measures: HIV mortality and infection.
Results: HIV accounted for 8.1% (99% confidence interval 5.0% to 11.2%) of all deaths among adults aged 25-34 years. In this age group, about 40% of deaths from HIV were due to AIDS, 26% were due to tuberculosis, and the rest were attributable to other causes. Nationally, HIV infection accounted for about 100,000 (59,000 to 140,000) deaths or 3.2% (1.9% to 4.6%) of all deaths among people aged 15-59 years. Deaths from HIV were concentrated in the states and districts with higher HIV prevalence and in men. The mortality results imply an HIV prevalence at age 15-49 years of 0.26% (0.13% to 0.39%) in 2004, comparable to results from a 2005/6 household survey that tested for HIV (0.28%). Collectively, these data suggest that India had about 1.4-1.6 million HIV infected adults aged 15-49 years in 2004-6, about 40% lower than the official estimate of 2.3 million for 2006. All cause mortality increased in men aged 25-34 years between 1997 and 2002 in the states with higher HIV prevalence but declined after that. HIV prevalence in young pregnant women, a proxy measure of incidence in the general population, fell between 2000 and 2007. Thus, HIV mortality and prevalence may have fallen further since our study.
Conclusion: HIV attributable death and infection in India is substantial, although it is lower than previously estimated.