Know your HIV sta­tus – Get tested

Bhutan Times - - Editorial -

T he World AIDS day will be cel­e­brated through the World on 1st of De­cem­ber ev­ery year. It is an op­por­tu­nity for peo­ple world­wide to unite in the fight against HIV and show their support for peo­ple liv­ing with HIV and to com­mem­o­rate peo­ple who have died. World AIDS Day was the first ever global health day and the first one was held in 1988. This year the theme for World AIDS Day is “Fo­cus, Part­ner , Achieve : An AIDS free gen­er­a­tion.

To­day, many sci­en­tific ad­vances have been made in HIV treat­ment, there are laws to pro­tect peo­ple liv­ing with HIV and we un­der­stand so much more about the con­di­tion. But de­spite this, peo­ple do not know the facts about how to pro­tect them­selves and oth­ers from HIV, and stigma and dis­crim­i­na­tion re­main a re­al­ity for many peo­ple liv­ing with HIV. World AIDS Day is im­por­tant as it re­minds the pub­lic and Gov­ern­ment that HIV has not gone away – there is still a vi­tal need to raise money, in­crease aware­ness, fight prej­u­dice and im­prove ed­u­ca­tion.

In Bhutan 403 cases have been de­tected in the coun­try of which 204 are male and 199 are fe­males. At least five new cases of HIV pos­i­tive cases are de­tected ev­ery month and the coun­try recorded 34 more HIV pos­i­tive cases be­tween De­cem­ber to June this year. This health of­fi­cials say is the tip of the ice berg and th­ese cases rep­re­sent only a small frac­tion of the es­ti­mated num­bers of cases in the coun­try as many more cases lie un­de­tected

Since 2004, the health min­istry ini­ti­ated the pro­vi­sion of HIV treat­ment by pro­vid­ing an­tiretro­vi­ral medicines to in­fected peo­ple. The UNAIDS es­ti­mates that Bhutan may have more than 1,100 peo­ple liv­ing with HIV/ AIDS in the coun­try.

The high­est num­bers of in­fec­tion is on the age group of 30- 39 of 132 of which 87 are male and 51 are fe­male, fol­lowed by the age group of 25- 29 with equal male and fe­male. The next group of 20- 24 years has about 62 of peo­ple liv­ing with HIV.

In most of cases of about 91% the trans­mis­sion is sex­ual route, fol­lowed by mother to child by 7% and in­tra­venous drug use of 1%. As the in­fec­tion falls un­der the most pro­duc­tive age group, it will af­fect the liveli­hood and the pro­duc­tiv­ity of the na­tion as a whole on the long run.

As we cel­e­brate the WORLD AIDS DAY to­mor­row let us all com­mit to be more re­spon­si­ble and prac­tice safe sex. We should build a so­ci­ety where HIV pos­i­tive per­son are free from stigma and dis­crim­i­na­tion.

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