Kabul (BNA) Ministry of public health (MoPH) of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan observed the World AIDS Day under the slogan of “Zero new HIV infections, zero discrimination and zero AIDS-related deaths” here in Kabul yesterday.
The ceremony was attended by the ministers of Hajj and Endowment, Justice, Refugees Affairs, women’s Affairs and deputy minister of counter-narcotic, chairman of health committee of Wolesi Jirga and representatives of WHO and USAID.
Dr. Suraya Dalil, Acting Minister of MoPH signed four Memorandum of Understandings (MoUs) with the ministers of Hajj and Endowment, Justice, Refugees Affairs and women’s Affairs, in order to raise the public awareness in preventing of HIV/AIDS infections.
Speaking at the ceremony, Dr. Suraya Dalil, stressed the importance of public awareness in preventing HIV infections, saying the number of people who living with HIV in the country registered at MoPH is 1250 persons, while it is estimated that 2000 to 3000 people are living with HIV in Afghanistan.
The fastest methods of spreading HIV and AIDS are through HIV infected needles and syringes shared by drug users.
Recent date shows a 7.1% of HIV/AIDS prevalence rate across three urban centers for injecting drug users and over 85 percent of injecting drug users”, said, Dr, Dalil.
She added that “The HIV prevalence in Afghanistan is low in the general population, however, it shouldn’t divert our attention from addressing this critical problem.
There are numerous determinates which can fuel the spread of HIV in our country is including, three decades of war poverty, low literacy rate, immigrations, internal displacements, the use of narcotics, unsafe injections etc. an expert warn that if not addressed, underlying issues of drug use-such as low awareness of the spread of HIV, inaccessibility to harm reduction service (OST), stigmatization and discrimination of people with HIV/AIDS- will cause the HIV and AIDS rate in the country to magnify.
The National AIDS Control Program of MoPH provides services through 16 Voluntary Counseling and Testing Centers (VCTs), 28 Drop in Centers and in 8 provinces namely Kabul, Herat , Jalalabad, Balkh, Badakhshan, Kandahar, Ghazni and Kunduz and 2 Anti-Retroviral Therapy (ART) centers in Kabul and Herat, added Dr. Dalil.
MoPH wants to link the HIV/AIDS program to the main health and development plans for a more comprehensive package of HIV prevention services, awareness and HIV/AIDS treatment services harm reduction services, for HIV/AIDS and focus on the pervasiveness of needle sharing in drug user communities.
Likewise, Dr. Ahmad Shadoul, Representative of World Health Organization (WHO) for Afghanistan called in his speech for an end of discrimination through public outreach and education, especially to the health-care services community to set clear standards that discrimination is not acceptable part of quality healthcare and not part of Afghanistan’s generous culture.
Representative of WHO said that the MoPH must build on the political commitments, investments, energy, activism, and determination that can make zero new infection of HIV, zero discrimination and zero related AIDS deaths a reality for all Afghans.
Financing will be critical to success.
It is worth mentioning that the worldwide, 34 million people living with HIV and 36 million people have died due to HIV/AIDS.
AIDS is caused by infection with a virus called human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). This virus can transfer from one person to another by unprotected penetrative sex with someone who is infected, injection or transfusion of contaminated blood or blood products, donations of semen (artificial insemination), skin grafts or organ transplants taken from someone who is infected.