DILI, 31 october 2023 (TATOLI) – In two decades, the Timor-Leste National HIV-AIDS Institute (INCSIDA) has registered more than 2,000 cases of HIV/AIDS in the country, of which 1,065 HIV-positive people are on treatment, 577 have abandoned treatment, 200 have died, and around 160 lost to follow-up.
The President of INCSIDA, Daniel Marcal, reported that the cases occurred in all municipalities, with the highest number of cases recorded in Dili with 1,507 infected persons, Bobonaro (113), Covalima (95), Oé-Cusse (62), Baucau (53), Ermera (35), Ainaro (33) and the remaining municipalities recorded more than 10 positive cases.
INCSIDA also registered 15 pregnant women infected with HIV/AIDS and 57 children under the age of five who were born to a mother living with HIV.
INCSIDA asks HIV-positive persons to continue taking regular treatment at health centers and not to go for traditional treatments that have no scientific basis, as there is currently no cure for HIV/AIDS.
In order to prevent the cases from increasing, INCSIDA, together with its partners, is carrying out awareness-raising activities on the prevention of the disease in the community.
In addition, INCSIDA is also consulting religious leaders, NGOs, and other relevant organizations to decide on a suitable location for the establishment of a sex workers’ site in the country, so that the authorities can control the transmission of HIV/AIDS.
He said that many people would disagree with the idea of establishing a place for sex workers, stating that it is part of the solution to controlling HIV/AIDS.
“We will collaborate with the government to closely monitor massage parlors, bars, and body massage parlors in order to monitor people who engage in sexual activities with sex workers to prevent the transmission of HIV/AIDS. Because these places also contribute to the spread and increase the number of HIV cases in the country,” said Marcal.
HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) is a virus that attacks the body’s immune system. If HIV is not treated, it can lead to AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome). There is currently no effective cure. Once people get HIV, they have it for life. But with proper medical care, HIV can be controlled. People with HIV who get effective HIV treatment can live long, healthy lives and protect their partners.
Globally, only half (52%) of children living with HIV are on life-saving treatment, far behind adults where three quarters (76%) are receiving antiretrovirals, according to the data that has just been released in the UNAIDS Global AIDS Update 2022.
UNAIDS reported that around 39 million people globally were living with HIV in 2022.
Around 1.3 million people became newly infected with HIV in 2022 and 630,000 people died from AIDS-related illnesses in 2022. More than 29 million people were accessing antiretroviral therapy in 2022.
Journalist: Camilio de Sousa
Editor: Filomeno Martins