The unidentified infected persons are posing serious risk as potential sources of fresh HIV infection among vulnerable people, experts said
While government is extrapolating to end the AIDS incidents in Bangladesh by 2030 in order to achieve the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) within its stipulated time; however, shockingly half of the suspected HIV positive in the country are not identified yet.
The unidentified infected persons are posing serious risk as potential sources of fresh HIV infection among vulnerable people, experts said.
Data published last year, by the National AIDS/STD Program of the Health and Family Welfare Ministry of the government of Bangladesh, revealed 6,455 HIV positive people were identified in the country.
The first HIV infected person was identified in 1989.
USAID estimation said the total number of the HIV positive in the country stands at nearly 14,000.
Bangladesh in its Tuberculosis-Leprosy and AIDS STD Program (TB-L & ASP) being implemented (January 2017 - June 2022 period) may not meet its projected target of detecting 90% of the estimated people living with HIV/AIDS through HIV testing and counseling (HTC) by 2020.
The national data showed 869 infected were identified in 2018. The number of detection is estimated to be higher with 200 more cases in this year, said Shamiul Islam, line-director of the AIDS/STD Program.
Lima Rahman, chief of party, HIV/AIDS Program at Save the Children in Bangladesh gave a positive outlook saying that the rising identification trend does not necessarily suggest detection of the new cases rather it’s a mixed up of both new and old patients.
She said despite low general prevalence, the HIV epidemic in the country is concentrated among certain group of populations. However, the number of identification may register some increase in the coming years, but after one stage, it will start decreasing, she said.
Therefore, she said it would help bring number of HIV positive patients under treatment facilities.
At present, 70% of identified patients with HIV virus have been brought under treatment scheme.
Meanwhile, Shamiul Islam said the screening and identification across 21 districts is currently underway in the country has also been determined as priority district.
Returning expatiate workers result 30% of new HIV cases
HIV prevalence remains less than 0.01% among general population of the country. People who inject drug (PWID), female sex worker, men having sex with men, transgender are the key populations who are suspected to spread the sexually transmitted diseases (STD).
But in the case of Bangladesh, only 0.03% of the total sex-workers are HIV positive.
The main source of HIV infections is being determined as injecting syringes or other inject able equipments sharing with someone who is already HIV positive, said Dr Lima Rahman.
Besides, about 30% of newly diagnosed case came from overseas migrants and their family, this year, she said upon query.
Screening migrants people at the airports is difficult on legal and ethical ground and keeping their track is yet another difficult task, she said adding that a comprehensive policy plan is needed to encourage at risk population to test their status.
It will require scaling up HIV prevention, testing, treatment and retention in care through innovative service delivery models in partnership with communities and ensuring sustainable financing through inclusive and integrated service provision.
She said the government has already addressed the issue and took some steps to create awareness among people.