DILI, 09 october 2023 (TATOLI) – The Ministry of Health (MoH) reported 184 cases of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infections from january to september 2023.
Of the 184 new cases, 143 were reported in Dili, the capital of Timor-Leste, making it the municipality with the highest number of HIV/AIDS cases in the country.
According to the Head of the Unit of HIV/AIDS, STIs and Hepatitis of the Ministry of Health, Bernardino da Cruz, of the 143 cases, 35 are from the Vera Cruz Health Center, 34 from the Guido Valadares National Hospital (HNGV), 27 from Key Populations, 17 from the Bairo Pite Clinic, 16 from the Comoro Health Center, seven from the Formosa Health Center, five from the Becora Health Center and two from the Motael Clinic.
The Special Administrative Region of Oé-Cusse Ambeno (RAEOA)) came in second with 10 cases, as the municipality shares borders with Indonesia’s province, Nusa Tenggara Timur, Kupang, where the local population has regular contact with Indonesians.
Cruz said that the number of HIV/AIDS cases registered in other municipalities is lower, with five cases each recorded in the municipalities of Bobonaro, Covalima, Ermera, and Liquiça, three cases recorded in Ainaro, two cases each registered in the municipalities of Aileu, Baucau, and Manatuto and one case each recorded in the municipalities of Lautém and Viqueque.
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.
Cruz said that the number of people who are living with HIV is much greater than the official case count.
Timor-Leste’s HIV/AIDS Prevention and Control Program focused on Prevention, Diagnosis, Treatment, HIV/AIDS Awareness, Elimination of Mother-to-Child Transmission, and Stigma and Discrimination.
The Ministry of Health has been working closely with the Komunidade Progress (a local HIV Key Population Organization) to provide HIV/STI (Sexually Transmitted Diseases) prevention to key populations through their outreach activities and activities in the Drop-In Centres in the Municipalities and RAEOA.
The Ministry of Health’s work also focused on fighting stigma and discrimination against people living with HIV/AIDS in the country.
Cruz stressed that pregnant women with HIV should test for HIV/STI and hepatitis and be enrolled in proper treatment to prevent perinatal transmission of HIV/STI of Hepatitis.
Previously, WHO Representative in Timor-Leste, Arvind Mathur, said WHO, in collaboration with the Ministry of Health (MoH), has been putting efforts to work with key populations to bring HIV self-testing to prevent and control HIV/AIDS in Timor-Leste.
“It is very important to work with key populations. It is one of the efforts we have made with the Ministry of Health and the Key Population Association (KPA) to bring in HIV self-testing,” Mathur says at the World Health Day celebration, in Dili.
In 2022, the Ministry of Health received almost US$1.7 million from the Global Fund to support its National HIV/AIDS Prevention and Control Program. The Global Fund had also made available US$1.3 million for Timor-Leste to combat HIV in 2023.
Cruz said since 2003 the Ministry of Health had recorded more than 1500 infections.
HIV continues to be a major global public health issue, having claimed 36.3 million worldwide, reported WHO.
WHO said that in the South-East Asia Region, the overall adult HIV prevalence is 0.3% with an estimated 3.5 million people living with HIV. The magnitude of HIV infection differs greatly between countries in the Region. Five countries account for the majority of the burden, namely India, Indonesia, Myanmar, Nepal, and Thailand.
Journalist: Camilio de Sousa
Editor: Filomeno Martins