|AIDS takes its grim toll
By Carol Aloysius
The cumulative number of reported cases of people
living with HIV has increased from 1,029 in 2008 to
1,285 at the end of the third quarter of 2010,
according to the latest data from the STD/AIDS
The number of reported cases of AIDS at the time of
diagnosis for the same period too has jumped from
The total number of AIDS related deaths has also
increased from 182 as at the end of September 2008
to 216 in the third quarter of 2010.
Age-wise the highest number of people infected with
the HIV virus were those in the prime of their
lives- between 24-49 years
More children under 15 years too have been infected
with the HIV virus. In 2008, the cumulative number
of HIV infected children was 31 as against 46 by the
3rd quarter of 2010. “All of these children were
infected by Mother to Child transmissions,” Dr K M
Ariyaratne of the National STD/AIDS Control
Programme said. The ratio of men and women infected
with the HIV virus was 1:5 at the end of the third
quarter of 2010.
Dr Ariyaratne charged that many of these women were
West Asia workers.
“I believe that around 30-40% of women may have been
infected with HIV by the time they returned home,”
This charge however was in direct contradiction to
what health officials told a recent media gathering
at the Health Education Bureau, when they discussed
how HIV/AIDS spread in this country.
According to them, the majority of women with HIV in
Sri Lanka were married women who had been infected
by their HIV infected husbands or partners without
Commenting on a new drug to prevent HIV transmission
reported as a major breakthrough in HIV prevention
among homosexuals, in a news report from San
Francisco, he said that they were only preliminary
trials and it would take years to see if the drug
was really effective or not.
“However treatment is available to prolong the life
span of those affect with the virus, though its
effectiveness will depend on detecting the patient
at an early stage and putting him on treatment at
the initial stages,” Dr Ariyaratne said.
“Our problem is that though we have the
infrastructure in place for detecting the disease
early, the takers are not enough. What we need is
more awareness raising to persuade people at risk of
getting the disease to visit our STI clinics at the
different general and base hospitals across the
country,” Dr Kulasiri Buddhakorale , Consultant,
“We have an on going Voluntary Counselling and
Testing Programme. More people with risky sex should
volunteer themselves for testing,” he emphasised.
“Confidentially will be strictly ensured,” Dr
Chandrika Jayakody, senior registrar, added.
She said HIV was like any other disease and could
only be transmitted by unprotected sex with an HIV
infected person, through HIV infected blood and
blood products and by an HIV pregnant woman to her
Since HIV/AIDS was not contagious, she said that
apart from the patients who needed in ward
treatment, the rest could have their treatment at
the special OPD’s centres at the STI or the IDH
which were manned by health workers specially
trained for this task. “HIV cannot be cured, but it
can be prevented through safe sex . So use a condom
when engaged in risky sex,” she advised
According to the latest global report released by
the UN recently , a total of 33.3 million adults and
children were living with HIV at the end of 2009.
Annually 2.6 million adults and children were
infected each year.
Meanwhile the estimated (unofficial) number of
people living with HIV has dropped by approximately
one thousand over a 2 year period, Health sources
told The Nation, Friday.
In 2008, the estimated number of people living with
HIV was 4,000. At the end of the third quarter of
2010 the estimated number of those living with HIV
had dropped to 3,000.
“This is largely due to raised awareness on the
danger of risky sex and our vigorous condom
promotion efforts,” Dr Ariyaratne said.
“Our reports are updated every two years. The next
update will be in 2012 which will indicate the 2011
estimated statistics,” he explained.