HIV con­tinue af­fects pro­duc­tive age group

Bhutan Times - - Front Page - Lhakpa Tsh­er­ing

The ma­jor­ity of young peo­ple are vul­ner­a­ble to HIV. The re­ported cases of HIV in­fected are young peo­ple be­tween the age group of 15 to 49 years es­pe­cially women con­tinue to be af­fected by HIV.

Dr. Tandi Dorji’s pre­sen­ta­tion on HIV and SOGIE: Me­dia ad­vo­cacy train­ing on 25 and 26 De­cem­ber in Thim­phu showed that the ma­jor­ity of peo­ple liv­ing with HIV are from housewives which stand at 130 since its de­tec­tion. The HIV cases were first de­tected in 1993 in the coun­try.

The HIV in­fected aged of 15 to 19 years of 14, aged 20 to 24 years of 82, aged 25 to 29 years of 135, aged 30 to 39 years of 188 and aged 40 to 49 years of 77.

To­day, Bhutan has reg­is­tered 570 cases of HIV in­fec­tion with al­most an equal pro­por­tion of male and fe­male with 294 and 276 re­spec­tively, in­clud­ing 35 chil­dren.

Un­pro­tected sex is the most com­mon route of HIV in­fec­tion for young peo­ple. The ma­jor­ity of 528 peo­ple liv­ing with HIV, in­clud­ing newly di­ag­nosed, con­tinue to be in­fected through un­safe sex­ual prac­tices, fol­lowed by mother to child with 35.

The ma­jor­ity of the re­ported cases are diag- nosed by con­tact trac­ing, rou­tine med­i­cal screen­ing and vol­un­tary HIV coun­sel­ing and test­ing.

Mul­ti­ple and in­ter­sect­ing forms of dis­crim­i­na­tion af­fect the lives of young peo­ple. Some young peo­ple are fear­ful of stigma from their part­ners, fam­i­lies and com­mu­ni­ties, mak­ing them un­will­ing to come for­ward for HIV test­ing. Even af­ter di­ag­no­sis, some peo­ple skip HIV med­i­ca­tion or avoid at­tend­ing vi­ral load mon­i­tor­ing ses­sions to avoid dis­clos­ing their sta­tus.

There are many fac­tors that put young peo­ple at an el­e­vated risk of HIV. HIV also af­fects young men who have sex with men, young peo­ple who use drugs, young trans­gen­der peo­ple and young sex work­ers.

The men hav­ing sex with men are iden­ti­fied as high risk for HIV. Men who have sex with men have greater HIV risk than both het­ero­sex­ual young peo­ple and older men who have sex with men.

The trans­gen­der peo­ple are faced high lev­els of stigma and dis­crim­i­na­tion in jobs and in­come. Dr. pre­sented that par­tic­u­larly the trans­gen­der women are af­fected by vi­o­lence. Their voices were largely left out of main­stream, com­mer­cial cul­ture and so­ci­ety.

The train­ing was con­ducted to con­struct en­gage­ment of me­dia rep­re­sen­ta­tives in the ad­vo­cacy of Lhak-Sam and Les­bian, Gay, Bi­sex­ual and Trans­gen­der (LGBT) com­mu­nity on is­sues re­lated to HIV. The com­mu­nity joined forces in im­prov­ing the stereo­type of so­ci­ety.

To­day, many peo­ple re­ceive ad­e­quate HIV and sex ed­u­ca­tion. The op­por­tu­ni­ties to ob­tain knowl­edge about HIV, AIDS and sex­ual health are ac­cessed to the pub­lic in schools, col­leges and in­sti­tu­tions.

The work­shop was to build ca­pac­ity of me­dia per­son­nel in ac­cu­rate and cor­rect re­port­ing of HIV and SOGIE. Be­sides, it ex­pects to build part­ner­ship and col­lab­o­ra­tion in rais­ing in­ter­est and high­light­ing is­sues re­lated to HIV.

The World Health Or­ga­ni­za­tion es­ti­mated at over 1,000 Bhutanese liv­ing with HIV.

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.

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