HIV continue affects productive age group
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.