12/01/2023, 13.15
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Bangladesh: record number of HIV infections

by Sumon Corraya

The 35th World AIDS Day, established in 1988 by the WHO, is being celebrated worldwide on 1 December. The Ministry of Health in Dhaka has implemented several programmes to tackle the rise in infections still due to the stigma attached to the disease. The complaint of Caritas Bangladesh: many avoid treatment and international funds have been cut.Bangladesh: record number of HIV infections

Dhaka (AsiaNews) - Bangladesh has reached a new "record" regarding the spread of the HIV virus and the resulting AIDS cases recorded in the country: 1,250 new infections were found in 2022, the highest ever. A significant increase compared to the 658 cases diagnosed in 2020 and 729 in 2021. The data, coming from the Department of Health, reveals an increase of 303 more patients compared to the previous year.

In the country today there are around 10 thousand people suffering from AIDS, but on 1 December 2017 there were half of them: 5,586. The cases are concentrated mainly in the divisions of Dhaka (54%), Chittagong (20%), but also in Khulna (10%) and Sylhet (6%).

Among the people who have undergone testing and tested positive this year, the majority are ordinary citizens, followed by male "sex workers". The increase in cases found and in people who are aware of being infected is due to the cultural work that the institutions have started. An example is the program established last year to detect HIV infection in nine prisons in Bangladesh. This has led to seven diagnoses among prisoners in 2022, infected with the virus due to drug use and the condition of syringes.

If the Dhaka division remains the one with the highest number of infections in an absolute sense and new cases, there is also an escalation in the peripheral areas of the country. This is demonstrated by the thousands of deaths every year due to AIDS because those infected do not want or are unable to be treated, as in the case of Ukhia, a subdistrict of Bangladesh located in the Cox's Bazar region, Chittagong division, where an inhabited camp is located by displaced Rohingya.

As World AIDS Day is observed today, Bangladesh's Health Ministry has implemented various programs to address the growing crisis. The country's health experts express concern that the risk of AIDS infection among the population is increasing due to the fact that identified patients avoid treatment. In fact, many people affected by AIDS prefer not to reveal their condition publicly, fearing social stigma.

Dr. Edward Pallab Rozario, head of the health sector of Caritas Bangladesh, also reported to AsiaNews a decline in international funds to deal with this emergency: "Here there is little awareness of the contagion and the exchange of syringes among drug addicts is widespread ”, explains the white coat.

Caritas Bangladesh, which works to support AIDS patients and their families, has historically conducted awareness programs on the topic in schools and universities. However, Rozario noted that funding cuts have led to the discontinuation of their previous initiative to also provide cash support to those who test positive for Aids.

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See also
Mangalika's story: an HIV-positive Catholic woman helps fellow AIDS patients
Youth education in the fight against the “social scourge” of Aids
Schools and hotels turn away AIDS orphans
Rejected by society, HIV patients helped by Caritas Bangladesh
More than 840,000 HIV-positive people in China


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