Ad­di­tional 29 HIV pos­i­tive cases de­tected in last seven months

Bhutan Times - - Home - Sonam Pen­jor

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.

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