Let’s join the fight

Bhutan Times - - Editorial -

T he con­tem­po­rary times we live in are not at all be­nign. Firstly, if the alarm­ing rate of Non-Com­mu­ni­ca­ble Dis­eases is not enough, then the num­ber of peo­ple de­tected or liv­ing with HIV/AIDS is on the rise.

The aug­ment­ing num­ber of HIV pos­i­tive cases de­tected in across the coun­try is in­du­bitably a con­cern. Five new HIV pos­i­tive cases were de­tected ev­ery month as per re­cent news re­port.

The to­tal num­ber of de­tected cases to­day is a whop­ping 515 cases with the al­most equal pro­por­tion of male and fe­male of 265 and 250 re­spec­tively. And this se­ri­ously de­serves a lot of deep reck­on­ing. The fig­ure is al­most dou­ble of what it was four or five years back.

Al­though HIV/AIDS in Bhutan is cat­e­go­rized as a ‘low level epi­demic’, but this fig­ure is just the tip of an iceberg. This is be­cause al­most all the cases that we were di­ag­nosed are done mostly through con­tact trac­ing and vol­un­tary test­ing, while some are found dur­ing med­i­cal checkup or screen­ing.

As these num­bers were de­rived just from these mech­a­nisms, we could only imag­ine what the ac­tual fig­ure is likely to be. The fig­ure, there­fore, is only ex­pected to be more than what it is now. Thou­sand of our com­mon folks across the coun­try are still yet to avail such test­ing fa­cil­ity.

The other dis­turb­ing rev­e­la­tion is the age group of the peo­ple con­tract­ing this dis­ease. We have our most eco­nom­i­cally pro­duc­tive and re­pro­duc­tive age group con­tract­ing this dis­ease. Given our small and vul­ner­a­ble pop­u­la­tion, such predica­ment would only pose se­ri­ous so­cioe­co­nomic de­vel­op­ment risk.

We are not only los­ing our close and dear ones, but also los­ing peo­ple in the most eco­nom­i­cally pro­duc­tive and re­pro­duc­tive age group (as per age group dis­tri­bu­tion of PLWHAs).

And while we may vie to have HIV di­ag­nos­tic test­ing ser­vices avail­able in all places across the coun­try, but what is more want­ing now is the aware­ness on safe sex prac­tices or sex ed­u­ca­tion. Un­safe sex is still the main cause of HIV/ AIDS.

Rather con­sid­er­ing it a taboo, it’s con­ceiv­able, be­sides the piv­otal role of teach­ers and par­ents, a cur­ricu­lum on sex ed­u­ca­tion, where ev­ery child is taught that an un­pro­tected sex can kill, will do much bet­ter.

As per the lat­est re­port HIV con­tin­ues to af­fects the pro­duc­tive age group es­pe­cially women in the age group of 15 to 49 years se­ri­ously ham­per­ing the work force of the coun­try.

Or­ga­ni­za­tion deal­ing with peo­ple liv­ing with HIV/ AIDS had risen con­cerned over lack of pub­lic sup­port and WHO has es­ti­mated that there are about 1,000 Bhutanese liv­ing with HIV/ AIDS.

It is high time we join the fight and sup­port the peo­ple liv­ing with HIV/ AIDS as they are like one of us.

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