10 unreported cases, for every one reportedAIDS in Yemen [Archives:2003/683/Health]

November 6 2003

Yasser Mohammed Al-Mayyasi
Fighting against AIDS remains a problem and a concern that troubles everyone because of the fatal consequences and the non-curable suffering, especially for those in the developing countries.
Yemen, like other countries, has laid down the fundamentals for making aware the people through strategic visions set by the national precautionary strategy from AIDS.
Although efforts are being made such as in the working program for the National Population Strategy between 2001 and 2005, which holds more effective procedures in this regards, as well as other governmental and non governmental organizations, academic institutions…etc.
Yet these visions remain insufficient and inactive due to the importance and severity of this problem. These efforts are not enough. Therefore the related parties had reached an agreement for a new precautionary measures and activating a new strategy for fighting AIDS, a strategy which was approved by the council of ministers.
This strategy includes a number of procedures, policies and measures under whose framework the action will take place in this regard in the years to come. A lot of the strategy’s focus was on the awareness and education campaigns through all media and around the country.
Especially that statistics indicate that there are around 12,000 reported cases in Yemen, and according to the National Program for Combating AIDS the number of registered cases during 2002 reached 1,132 cased. Naturally unregistered cases are much more and there is an assumption that there is a ration of 1:10 registered to unregistered cases of AIDS.
A field study conducted by the National Center for Combating AIDS in a number of the governorates said that 90% of the cases are acquired due to sexual intercourse, indicators show that in 2002, 95 cases were reported for unaware girls who worked in the red area and who were forced into this because of extreme poverty. Other causes could be pregnancy and delivery as well as unsafe blood transfer or use of non-sterilized tools in the medical field.
As to the rate of who this disease spreads, the same study showed that one prostitute who has AIDS had infected as many as 253 young men. Even girls below 15 who practice prostitution had been reported to have the disease. Married men who go with such girls have brought home the disease to their wives and hence future children.
UN Fund expressed that poverty is the main reason for the spread of the disease especially in countries where the percentage of teenage boys and girls is quite high (6 million people which means one third of the population). This was reported in the sexual violence and women trafficking report. And most of the cases are reported of people between 20 – 39 years of age.
Deaths due to AIDS according to the National Program for Combating AIDS had reached 210 in 2002, mostly of which were women. 1995 statistics showed that 1:4 was the ration of men to women infected by the disease. This ratio has dropped down to 1:2 infected men to infected women according to 1999 statistics. Most of the diseased people are not Yemeni nationals, but from other countries. Only five per cent of the infected are Yemenis.
Yemen remains one of the least developed countries in the world and needs a lot of help and support to fight such fatal diseases among others.