New HIV infections [Archives:2007/1021/Local News]

February 1 2007

SANA'A, Jan.30 ) Yemeni Ministry of Health announced that new 38 cases of HIV/AIDS were diagnosed in December and indicate that the infection is on the rise.

Finding 38 cases in one month has raised AIDS cases in Yemen to 2,025 since 1987 when the first case was reported, said the director of the National Anti-AIDS Program, Dr. Fauzya Gharama, who added that 38 percent of the AIDS/HIV infections in Yemen are among non-Yemenis and that there are 11 infected children among the total reported cases.

The National Program announced early in April 2006 that there were 1,821 individuals living with HIV/AIDS in Yemen, up from 1,769 cases in 2005. However, HIV/AIDS specialists working in Yemen say the actual figures are higher than those provided by the Ministry of Health because many patients don't report their disease.

The World Health Organization said that HIV surveillance systems are very weak in Yemen and HIV cases are based on laboratory data available at the Central Public Health Laboratory and its governorate branches.

The WHO estimated that there are 10 unreported cases for every one registered case in Yemen.

The availability of voluntary testing and counseling services in Yemen is very limited, although the National Anti-AIDS Program initiated a pilot testing and counseling service in July 2004. Expanded testing and counseling services are planned and a training program for counselors already has begun.

According to UNAIDS, the primary reported mode of HIV transmission in Yemen is through heterosexual contact. However, apparently, difficulties remain in achieving universal HIV screening of donated blood and adequate blood donor selection. Additionally, unsafe practices handling piercing instruments is common whether in health care settings or by traditional healers, but intravenous drug use is rare.