While cigarette packs carry warnings in the form of photographs which cautions smokers about its cancer-causing tendencies, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) is contemplating doing the same with liquor bottles. With an aim to warn people against ill effects of alcohol and drunk driving, FSSAI is in the process of finalising standards for alcoholic beverage and is studying global practices regarding pictorial warnings and messages around drunk driving, an official said. “We are examining international practices regarding pictorial warnings and messages around drunk driving and alcohol consumption. After this we will finalise our recomendations for inclusion of such warnings in regulations for alcoholic beverages that are being finalised,” the FSSAI official, who did not wish to be named, said. NGO Community Against Drunken Driving (CADD) had filed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) in Delhi High Court seeking pictorial warning on drunk driving on all alcohol bottles, Indian or Indian Made Foreign Liquor (IMFL). The court, which heard the plea on May 18, refused to give a direction to increase the size of statutory warning on liquor bottles and packaging, saying it was in the realm of policy making. However, it had directed the FSSAI, under the ministry of health, to consider the plea as a suggestion and take a firm view in this regard. “I have met officials at FSSAI and given them four designs along with messages to be used as part of the bottle label. Pictorial warnings are critical as they are understood, easily without any language barrier and also comprehensible by persons who cannot read or write,” said Prince Singhal, activist and founder of CADD. He said pictorial messages will serve as an alert or reminder to road users about the hazards of drunk driving and help in reducing the risk of road accidents tragedies.
The U.S. government says the HIV epidemic is “coming under control” in Swaziland, the country with the worlds highest prevalence of the virus. The U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) said Monday that new infections among adults in Swaziland have dropped by nearly half since 2011. It said the latest research also shows that life-saving anti-retroviral treatment has doubled in the country during the same time period and now reaches over 80 percent of infected adults. PEPFAR has focused much of its efforts on increasing access to anti-retroviral drugs for over 11 million people, mostly in sub-Saharan Africa. Monday’s statement also says the southern African nations of Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe “demonstrate significant progress toward controlling the HIV epidemics.” The U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator, Deborah Birx, said “These unprecedented findings demonstrate the remarkable impact of the U.S. government’s efforts … We now have a historic opportunity to change the very course of the HIV epidemic.” The data shows that the number of people in Swaziland who have achieved a suppression of the virus – meaning the virus does not replicate to make them sick – has doubled since 2011. While the results show large progress in combating the epidemic, it also reveals key gaps in HIV prevention and treatment. PEPFAR says the data shows that women ages 15-24 and men under age 35 are less likely to know their HIV status, be on HIV treatment, or be taking anti-retroviral drugs than older adults. “These gaps are all areas in which PEPFAR continues to invest and innovate,” the statement said.