Bangladesh at high risk of HIV infection

16-year-old Raihan (not his real name) lived in the city’s Mohammadpur district. He reads in class X. His father is a businessman by profession. But, Raihan becomes addicted. He used to take drugs through his veins. Later, he was diagnosed with AIDS.

According to the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics, Bangladesh currently has about 14,000 patients with AIDS, the most advanced stage of HIV infection. Although the number is low, the country is at high risk due to neighboring countries which have higher transmission rates and easy access to drugs.

Among them, about 84% have undergone treatment. The disease, however, claimed 205 lives in 2020, bringing the total death toll to 1,588.

Bangladesh first detected a case of HIV in 1989. The first AIDS patient is still alive and in good physical health. He communicates regularly with the HIV treatment program.

According to a report by UNICEF, released on November 29 last year, around 3.60 lakh adolescents are expected to die from AIDS-related illnesses globally between 2018 and 2030. Around 76 adolescents are expected to die every day if an additional allowance Is made. in the HIV prevention, testing and treatment project. Currently, two teenagers are infected with HIV every two minutes.

UNICEF has urged all parties concerned to strengthen different programmes, including treatment and prevention, to reduce the rate of infection and death among adolescents.

The report entitled “Children, HIV & AIDS: World 2030” indicates that 270,000 children and adolescents are expected to be newly infected with the virus each year. But the number of teenage deaths will be reduced. 56,000 children and adolescents are expected to die each year from AIDS-related causes.

He said the number of newly infected children will be reduced by 2030. But the rate of adolescents newly infected with HIV between the ages of 10 and 19 will be reduced by 29%. And the mortality rate for children under 14 will be reduced by 57%.

According to the latest statistics, a large portion of the total number of AIDS patients in Bangladesh are Rohingyas. Relevant officials have emphasized screening at all air, sea and land ports nationwide to prevent the spread of the deadly virus.

They said that India and Myanmar have different communications with businesses and ordinary people in Bangladesh. Thus, there is a need to raise awareness among citizens in addition to governmental and non-governmental initiatives for this purpose.

Assistant Professor at Shaheed Suhrawardy Medical College Hospital, Dhaka Virologist Dr Zahidur Rahman said: “Bangladesh is a low prevalence country when it comes to HIV infection. But it is threatened for various reasons. We have borders with two countries (India and Myanmar). Both are high risk. There are also a few lakh Rohingyas in the country.

Mentioning people coming to Bangladesh from the two neighboring countries, he said there was an urgent need to start HIV testing at air, sea and land ports.

“This test will not be expensive and it may take 10 minutes to perform the same test per kit.” The United Nations has huge unused funds that we can use for HIV testing,” he added.

According to the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics, about 28.05% of women are unaware of AIDS, but 71.05% know at least one carrier of the disease. Women’s awareness of all spreaders increased to 36%, up 7% from 2016.

The government agency believes the risk of AIDS transmission among women is increasing because awareness has not reached the desired level.

Data provided by the National AIDS/STD Control Program of the Directorate General of Health Services indicates that a total of 12,91,069 specimens were tested from November 2020 to November 2021 for HIV/AIDS. The same was around 13,32,589 the previous year. Of the 729 people newly infected with HIV last year, men are 420, women 210, transgender 12.

Among them, the Rohingya are 188 (accounting for 26%), ordinary people 186 (26%), overseas returnees and their families 144 (20%), injecting drug users 61 (8%), female sex workers 17 (2 percent), gay men 67 (9 percent), male sex workers 53 (7 percent) and transgender 12 (2 percent), according to the data.

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