HIV affects productive age group
The reported cases of HIV infection are between the age group of 15 to 49 years, which constitutes about 87 percent in the country.
Today, Bhutan has registered 548 cases of HIV infection with almost an equal proportion of male and female with 284 and 264 respectively, including 35 children.
Since December 2016, 33 new HIV positive cases have been detected in the last six months. The National HIV/AIDS and STIs Control Programme of the Department of Public Health update HIV status every six months.
According to the centre’s record shared on the Facebook page on 22 August, the HIV infected aged of 15 to 49 years, aged 20 to 24 years of 79 people, aged 25 to 29 years of 133, aged 30 to 39 years of 176 and aged 40 to 49 years of 57. The report states that 26 HIV positive cases are children below five years.
About 90 percent of people living with HIV, including newly diagnosed, continue to be infected through unsafe sexual practices of 506 people while 35 acquired the infection through mothers to child transmission. Three each were reported through probable use of intravenous drug and blood transmission.
According to the stat- ics, the majority of the reported cases are diagnosed by contact tracing for 162 people, voluntary HIV counseling for 119 people and 117 people were detected through testing routine medical
Going by the occupational background, the majority of people living with HIV are from housewives which stand at 112. While 107 farmers, 92 business and private individuals and 50 drivers are detected HIV positives. It is also reported that there are 29 civil servants and 28 corporate and private employees with HIV positive.
The statistics also shows that 11 people are from religious body, 36 people are from armed forces, eight are students and three prisoners. 12 sex workers are also detected with HIV positive.
Bhutan’s HIV response has been guided by the global and regional policies, including UN General Assembly, Political Declarations and Resolutions, UNAIDS and WHO Strategies and guidelines.
The HIV cases were first detected in 1993 in the country. Since the first cases were reported, the progressive achievements have been made in promoting safe sex practice, promotion of voluntary counseling testing and increasing enrollment on treatment.
The case notification rate has improved after 2006. Since then, 40 to 45 cases are diagnosed every year on average due to introduction of HIV counseling and testing services in all the health centers including the BHUs. The mother to child transmission of HIV has been reduced by 2015.
The Ministry also launched the revised national strategic plan from 2017 to 2023 and revised ART treatment guideline, 2016 on treat- all policy initiatives.
In 2015, an estimated 36.7- million people were living with HIV, 2.1- million people were newly infected with HIV and 1.1- million people died from AIDS- related illnesses globally. While UNAIDS has estimated about 1,100 cases in Bhutan.