New HIV cases fall as Bahrain's efforts pay off
Manama, December 4, 2013
By Sandeep Singh Grewal
Forteen HIV cases have been registered by Bahrain's Health Ministry since the start of the year.
Officials said the figures, which compare with 21 during the whole of last year, show Bahrain is committed to tackling the disease, reported the Gulf Daily News (GDN), our sister publication.
"The total number of HIV cases since the first case was reported in 1986 until October this year is 2,038," said Health Ministry's disease control section chief consultant Dr Adel Al Sayyed.
"This included a total of 1,605 cases among non-Bahrainis and 433 cases registered among Bahrainis."
Dr Al Sayyed, who was speaking to coincide with World Aids Day, which fell on Sunday, said the main cause of transmission of the disease was needle sharing.
"Based on the information and latest statistics available with us, sharing of needles among drug addicts is the main cause of transmission of the virus followed by unprotected sex with an infected partner outside Bahrain," he said.
The doctor said there was no need to press the panic button, as according to the World Health Organisation, Bahrain still ranks as a low-risk country in term of spreading Aids.
"This does not mean we will stop national efforts to tackle this disease and increase awareness at all levels," he said.
This year's theme for World Aids Day is Getting to Zero, which focuses on eliminating new HIV infections and Aids-related deaths, as well as discrimination against people with the disease.
Dr Al Sayyed said Bahrain was also working on legislation to protect the rights of patients living with the virus and eliminate discrimination.
"The challenges we face are similar to other countries in terms of educating youth to refrain from indulging in wrong practices and also eliminating discrimination," he said.
He said a draft bill was discussed in parliament to protect the rights of HIV/Aids patients. Individuals can voluntarily test themselves for Aids and Hepatitis C and maintain confidentiality at Naim Health Centre. According to the latest Joint UN Programme on HIV/Aids (Unaids) figures, the Middle East and North Africa has seen HIV infections double since 2001. - TradeArabia News Service