Additional 29 HIV positive cases detected in last seven months
With the continuous HIV surveillance and progressive contact tracing, the Ministry of Health has detected an additional of 29 HIV positive cases during the last six months.
According to the press release from the Health Ministry, the cases were detected within the period of six months from 1st December 2014 to June 2015. Among the 29 cases, one is a minor aged 18 months old.
It also stated that, 31.03 percent of the new cases are in the age range of 20-29 years old, where females are mostly infected and another 31.03 percent are aged above 30 years of which males are mostly infected.
The demographic characteristics of the new cases, shows that majority of the male and female are all married and falls in a reproductive age group of 20-49 years. And it was also found out that, the CD4 count of the male above 30 years of age is much lower than that of female aged 20-29 years. Therefore, it is more likely that younger females are being infected more recently than that of elderly men.
While, a CD4 count is a lab test that measures the number of CD4 cells in a sample of your blood. It is an important indicator of how well your immune system is working. The CD4 cells or T-cells are a type of white blood cells that play a major role in protecting your body from infection. They send signals to activate your body’s immune response when they detect “intruders,” like viruses or bacteria.
As of now the total detected cases in the country since 1993 stands at 432 cases. 217 of them are males and 215 are females. Although there seems a progressive increase in the number of cases every year, Bhutan still has a case detection gap of 60.7 percent to reach the 2013 UNAIDS estimation of 1100 cases.
The Ministry of Health is re-strategizing its approach to intensify the case finding though micro-stratification of the population, identifying the most at risk population and comprehensive risk assessment of individuals. In a resource constrained country like Bhutan with low prevalence it would be more viable to focus and prioritized testing services for the more vulnerable section of the population, states the press release.
Meanwhile, among the 29 cases, nine of them were detected through the voluntary counselling & testing services, another nine through medical screening, seven of them through contact tracing, two through active surveillance and another one each from mother to child transmission (MTCT) and through blood donor.
The baseline CD4 count taken from the nineteen cases out of 29 reported cases, disaggregated by sex. As per the National treatment guideline, the HIV positive client will be eligible for treatment if his/her CD4 count is ≤500 cells/ mm.
According to the report, 15 of cases including eight males and seven females are eligible for treatment; as of now 13 clients were put on ART and remaining two will be enrolled for treatment within the month of August, 2015. The CD4 count tests for the remaining ten cases are still in the process of follow-up and counselling for enrolling into CD4 count test.
Press release further stated that, out of 19 tested for CD4 count, eight of them has CD4 counts above 400cells/ mm3, thus it was assuming that it has infected very recently and are supposed to be in acute infection stage. However, 11 of them whose CD4 count between 300-400 cells/mm3 might have acquired the infection three to seven years back and many of them are in clinical latency stage and only two of them have progressed to AIDS stage.
According to the report, since 2006 no less than 25 cases have been detected every year and in the last three years the average yearly detection had been 42. Of the total reported cases approximately 75 percent were reported from 2004 onwards which is attributable to the consistent and continuous effort of the government and its partners.
Meanwhile, of the total 432 cases reported, 10 percent are below the age of 19 years and seven percent cases constitute parent to child transmission.