50pc surge in HIV cases, says Dalil
KABUL (PAN): A 50 percent increase has been noticed in HIV positive cases registered this year, compared to last year's figures, the acting public health minister said on Saturday.
Speaking at a ceremony marking World HIV/AIDS Day in Kabul, Dr. Suraya Dalil said her ministry had signed a memorandum of understanding with other ministries to create public awareness about the fatal disease.
The cases rose to 1,250 this year from last year's 630, while 2,000 to 3,000 people in Afghanistan were estimated to live with the virus.
The ministers of hajj and, justice, refugee affairs, women's affairs, deputy counternarcotics minister, Wolesi Jirga's Health Commission chairman, WHO and USAID representatives attended the ceremony.
"The fastest method of HIV and AIDS spread is the use and sharing of injections by drug addicts. A recent data shows a 7.1 percent HIV/AIDS prevalence rate in three urban centers, where 85 percent of drug users share needles," Dalil said.
About 11 people, most of them drugs addicts, died of the disease, she said, adding there were numerous determinants fueling the spread of HIV in Afghanistan. "The three decades of war, poverty, low literacy rate, immigration, internal displacement, the use of narcotics and unsafe injections are some of the determents," she said.
Dalil also signed four memorandums of understanding with the ministers of hajj, justice, refugee affairs and women's affairs to raise public awareness of preventing HIV/AIDS infections.
The World Bank, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the United Nations and other organisations would provide financial aid, she said.
Hajj Minister Mohammad Yusuf Niazi said his ministry was ready to cooperate in creating public awareness about the disease.
Seven HIV-positive had surfaced in southern Kandahar province, Public Health Director Dr. Abdul Qayum Pukhla told Pajhwok Afghan News.
The infected individuals included three women and eight men, he said, adding they had been addicts and injected drugs.
Another official at the department, Dr. Hamayun Rahman, said about 11 people were found infected with HIV this year, when 22,000 people underwent blood tests. Of the infected people, three had died, he said.
Three HIV-testing centres have been established and workshops are being conducted to create public awareness among the people about the disease in the province.