From a Report Issued by PHPEC Alarming Bell of AIDS Rings in Yemen [Archives:2001/37/Health]

September 10 2001

Prepared for publishing:
Ismael Al-Ghabery
Yemen Times
The Public Health, Population & Environment Committee of the Parliament issued a report on AIDS in Yemen describing the situation of AIDS in the country and the measures to be taken for controlling this epidemic. Enclosed is the text of the report.
The Epidemic Situation of AIDS in Yemen
The report issued by the Ministry of Health on the situation of AIDS in Yemen stated that it is hard to evaluate the size of the problem due to the absence of a specialized unit able to detect epidemics. Moreover, the reported AIDS cases are not registered appropriately for many reasons such as:
– Improper diagnostic of HIV positive cases at hospitals
– Difficulty of reaching hospitals
– Private hospitals & laboratories do not notify the competent authorities on the discovered cases
The first AIDS case was discovered in 1990. However, the continuous rise in the number of AIDS-infected patients means that more and more people are now infected with AIDS.
The long period of incubation of HIV virus makes it difficult to identify the exact number of infected people as they live for many years without having any symptoms of the disease. Furthermore, the available data and information do not give the exact size of the epidemic but merely give indicators on the size of the problem. The number of AIDS patients reached more than 806 cases as of the first quarter of the year 2000. Most of these cases were discovered by accident.
Sexual intercourse is considered to be the principal way of transmitting HIV virus. While the ratio of male to female patients was 4 to 1 in 1995, it went down to 2 to 1 in 1999 which shows that females are now more vulnerable.
The report stated that the ratio of Yemenis to be infected with AIDS represents 44 percent of the total number of infected patients in Yemen. The number of cases registered in 1999 are nine times bigger than these in 1993. The number of registered cases is also very alarming as HIV positive cases increased four times in 1995 and 1994. So far, 96 persons have died since the discovery of AIDS in Yemen. The report discloses that most of the cases are within the age group from 20 to 39 years and accounts for 96% of the total number of the infected cases.
Preventive Measures
The Government report warns of ignoring the extent of the AIDS problem since the number of the infected cases has reached in the past two years 806 AIDS and HIV cases. Thus, concrete steps should be taken for controlling this epidemic by adopting the following two approaches:
– Spreading awareness among the people on the ways the HIV virus is transmitted
– Getting ready to combat this epidemic through the early detection of the HIV positive cases
Furthermore, the report focuses on the importance of continuing AIDS-fighting with the cooperation of the UN Anti-AIDS Program, created in 1986, since this epidemic has become a universal threat.
The practical steps taken by the government can be outlined as follows:
The establishment of the National Program for Combatting AIDS and Sexually Transmitted Diseases and earmarking a fixed budget for this program.
Moreover, the general and detailed goals of this program have be drawn and the duties of the program officer and coordinators have been specified. The objectives of the newly created program focused on:
– Preventing the spread of AIDS
– Controlling the effects incurred on the AIDS patients and their families. These two objectives can be achieved through adopting the following strategies:
– Enhancing the role of mass media in spreading awareness of this serious disease and mapping out the necessary programs
– Providing treatment for the AIDS patients
– Strengthening the role of epidemic detection and following up the different activities of the program
– Checking the safety of the tools used for surgeries at private and pubic hospitals
– Rendering care to the AIDS and HIV patients
– Training a specialized medical team in Yemen and overseas
– Enhancing inter-sectoral coordination among the concerned bodies
– Promoting researches and studies related to AIDS epidemic.
Remarks & Outcomes
 The committee noticed that the government’s report on the AIDS epidemic and HIV is full of mistakes, especially the unavailability of sufficient and accurate information and statistics pertaining to the AIDS epidemic. Moreover, the plan for combatting AIDS is more theoretical than practical since it is based on unconfirmed information and indicators. The government’s side has made many justifications that have been partially confirmed by the committee, however, some of the mistakes can be avoided if the government is serious enough to control this epidemic. In addition, the measures taken by the government are not following up to the required standard despite the establishment of the National Program for Fighting AIDS.