Friday, March 16, 2012

Most women get HIV from husbands – Medical expert

Courtesy - The Island by Maheesha Mudugamuwa

In Sri Lanka, nearly 80 percent of the women infected with HIV have contracted the disease from their husbands, AIDS Foundation of Lanka (AFL), Director- Research and Programme, Dr. Sarojani Perera told The Island on Tuesday (14).

Dr. Perera said that statistics revealed that the total number of male and female HIV positive cases had increased by 11 percent and 9 percent respectively.Among the HIV/AIDS patients in Sri Lanka recorded since the first HIV positive case had been reported in 1987. There were fifty two HIV infected children by birth, she said.

Nearly 15 children had died due to HIV/AIDS. In 2010 (three) and 2011 (five), eight HIV/AIDS affected children had been reported, Dr. Perera said. Up to 2011, the number of HIV positive cases in Sri Lanka had been 1,463, she added.

In 2011, 146 HIV cases were reported, majority of them from the Western, North-western and the Central provinces. The most vulnerable age group was 19-50 years. In 2010 and 2009, 121 and 137 HIV cases had been reported in Sri Lanka respectively, Dr. Perera said.

The HIV epidemic in Sri Lanka remains at a low level. The estimated number among the adult population was just 0.02 percent and there were only an estimated 3,000 people living with HIV in Sri Lanka with the infected averaging 350 a year. The highest number of cases—582— had been reported during 2005 to 2009 compared to 310 cases during the years 2000 and 2004, Dr. Perera said.

"Sri Lanka is liable to experience an increase in the number of HIV infected persons due to many factors including overseas travel for employment and education and the increase in high risk groups including female sex workers, homosexual males and drug addicts who use syringes," Dr. Perera said.

She said measures were being adopted to control the spreading of sexually transmitted diseases in coastal areas and in places of tourist attraction.

"Our goal is to prevent HIV infections with the help of effective strategies aimed at reducing sexual transmission, mother to child transmission, transmission through blood transfusion and to improve the quality of life of the HIV infected people," Dr. Perera said.