WHO-TL calls for equal treatment for people living with HIV/AIDS

WHO-TL calls for equal treatment for people living with HIV/AIDS

Representative of WHO in Timor-Leste, Arvin Mathur (Image Tatoli/Francisco Sony)

DILI, 01 november 2022 (TATOLI) – The World Health Organization (WHO) representative in Timor-Leste, Arvind Mathur, said that HIV-positive people deserve equal treatment.

World AIDS Day is celebrated today, (01/12), with the theme: “Equalize”.

“Equalize means ensuring equal opportunities for prevention and treatment, as well as ending stigma and discrimination against people living with HIV/AIDS,” Mathur made the comments during the World AIDS Day celebration in Dili.

He said the World AIDS Day celebration was very critical to addressing stigma and discrimination, particularly in treating people living with sexually transmitted infections (STIs), such as HIV/AIDS, with dignity.

“We need to treat them equally. And also, all our young people need to have equal access to information, prevention, treatment as well as equal access to opportunities when it comes to addressing stigma across the country and beyond,” Mathur said.

WHO has supported the Ministry of Health to combat STIs, including HIV/AIDS: “We support the Ministry of Health to have the right policy of the sexually transmitted infections (STIs), STIs guidelines and support for vulnerable populations to achieve equitable access to end AIDS.”

“About 95% of Timor-Leste’s HIV cases are in the key populations, including men who have sex with men, transgender people, especially transgender women, sex workers, people who inject drugs, people living with HIV, and people in prison and detention.

“We need to focus on key populations. We need to do the right estimation of the public burden and WHO is working with the Ministry of Health on this. We are now estimating the burden among the key population,” he said.

Mathur emphasized that key populations have to be protected, saying that through them, the larger population can be protected as well: Thus, we are working closely with the Ministry of Health on the National Strategic Plan for HIV/AIDS Prevention, Treatment, and Management.”

“My message is very simple, for young people, be informed, and be smart. With information and awareness, you can prevent HIV/AIDS, you can be active, and you can be healthy,” he said.

Mathur pledged that WHO, together with the Ministry of Health, would collaborate with youths and HIV-positive people to fight HIV/AIDS: “We will protect the vulnerable and we will protect everyone in the country.”

Health Minister Odete Belo said the World AIDS Day celebration aims to send messages to HIV-positive people that there is no place for stigma and discrimination against them in the country.

“The Ministry of Health has made efforts to expand HIV diagnosis to all health care facilities in municipalities, which is important to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV/AIDS,” she said.

Belo called on HIV-positive people to seek treatment at the nearest health facility.

World AIDS was celebrated with the participation of the 10 member countries of the South East Asia Region.

The Ministry of Health (MoH), through the HIV/AIDS, STIs, and Hepatitis Unit, reports that 250 new cases of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infections have been notified by health facilities across the Country from january to september 2022.

Of the 250 new cases, 86 were reported in Q1, 84 in Q2, and 70 cases in Q3. Meanwhile, from Q1 to Q3 2022, the Ministry of Health reported four deaths in the country. Since 2003, the ministry has recorded 1776 HIV cases.

Among 250 new cases, 77 have not received Anti-Retroviral Treatment from the Ministry of Health. As some of them are still not ready to start treatment and the counselors of MoH are making approaches to ensure they can be enrolled for the treatment.

So far, 186 people have died of AIDS-related causes during treatment, and 103 others have died after loss to follow-up.

Of the 1776 cases, 927 are receiving intensive treatment, while 329 others have abandoned the treatment/ lost to follow-up.

Timor-Leste continues to see an increase in the number of HIV cases every year. The country recorded 202 cases in 2020, 214 infections in 2021, and 250 cases in 2022.




Journalist: Filomeno Martins

Editor: Nelia Borges 


Leave a Reply

error: Content is protected !!