DILI, 01 december 2023 (TATOLI) – On the occasion of the celebration of World AIDS Day under the theme: “Let communities lead”, Timor-Leste National HIV-AIDS Institute (INCSIDA), in collaboration with the World Health Organizations (WHO), the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), and International Organization for Migration (IOM) in Timor-Leste launched National HIV/AIDS Strategy Plan intensify efforts to combat and control the disease in the country.
The President of INCSIDA, Daniel Marçal, said that the launch of the National HIV/AIDS Strategy Plan is important to combat and prevent the disease that is currently spreading in the country.
“If we don’t carry out prevention and treatment, there will be a negative impact on health. Therefore, we want to work together and we will make every effort to raise awareness of how to avoid behaviors that present a risk of transmitting HIV/AIDS in our country,” said Marçal on the sidelines of the celebration of World AIDS Day at the B.J. Habibie Garden, Dili.
Marçal thanked the partners who over the years have provided technical and financial assistance to the institution in carrying out awareness campaigns to combat the disease.
The Representative of UNFPA, Domingas Bernardo said that the launch of the National HIV/AIDS Strategy Plan aimed to support INCSIDA’s services to intensify efforts to prevent and mitigate the negative impacts of HIV/AIDS in the country.
“This new initiative is an important milestone in Timor-Leste to fight against the HIV/AIDS. It is a sign of a collective effort to respond to concerns about the increase in the number of HIV infections resulting from free sex, as well as the increase cases among pregnant women,” she said.
Domingas also pointed out that UNFPA is committed to supporting INSCIDA, the Ministry of Health, and NGOs in carrying out campaigns to raise public awareness of HIV/AIDS prevention, combat stigma, and contribute to preventing the transmission of the disease from pregnant women to their babies, as well as preventing syphilis and hepatitis B.
Previously, the President of INCSIDA, Daniel Marcal reported that 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.
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.
He said 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 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.
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.
This year 2023, the World AIDS Day Theme is “LET COMMUNITIES LEAD!”. The theme emphasizes the influence of communities on the HIV response and global health.
This annual event serves as a reminder of the global struggle to end HIV-related stigma, an opportunity to honor those we have lost, and a rallying cry to commit to working toward a day when HIV is no longer a public health threat.
HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) is a virus that attacks cells that help the body fight infection, making a person more vulnerable to other infections and diseases. It is spread by contact with certain bodily fluids of a person with HIV, most commonly during unprotected sex (sex without a condom or HIV medicine to prevent or treat HIV), or through sharing injection drug equipment, according to HIV Gov.
Journalist: Camilo de Sousa
Editor: Filomeno Martins