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HIV/AIDS spikes in HeratWritten by Bahnam Fardes
Saturday, 29 January 2011 12:59
The number of registered HIV/AIDS cases in the western Herat Province has hiked considerably over the past one year stirring up concerns among the people about a rapid growth of the virus.
"HIV/AIDS positive cases have increased to 67 from 41 last year," said Arif Shahram, head of the HIV/AIDS and venereal diseases diagnosis and treatment unit in Herat's hospital.
According to Shahram most of the newly detected cases are intravenous drug users who use shared needles. A contaminated needle can transfer HIV from an infected person to another, health experts say.
Afghanistan is the world's top narcotics producer and domestic drug addiction is also on the rise, according to the Ministry of Counter Narcotics.
"The real number of HIV/AIDS positive people is probably very high as every case is not diagnosed and registered," said Shahram adding that the injecting drug addiction was also on the rise in Herat Province.
Across the country, over 636 cases of HIV/AIDS have been confirmed and reported by the Ministry of Public Health but the total number of people living with the virus has been estimated at over 4,000. Ten people have lost their lives to the deadly virus thus far across the nation.
At a treatment and rehabilitation center for drug addicts in Herat, officials said they were struggling with increased patients.
"We're trying to prevent the growth of injecting drug addiction in particular," said Saeed Navid, director of the center.
Provincial health officials, meanwhile, said they were trying to expand HIV/AIDS diagnosis and reporting centers in Herat.
Lack of awareness about HIV virus and its transferability through injecting drug addiction is a major concern.
"I think HIV/AIDS is a disease in Africa," said Khodad, a shopkeeper, "it originates from illegitimate sexual relationships."
HIV is transmitted through direct contact of a mucous membrane or the bloodstream with a bodily fluid containing HIV, such as blood, semen, vaginal fluid, preseminal fluid, and breast milk, according to the UN World Health Organization.