Sharp decline in new HIV infections in past decade: NCASCThere has been a sharp decline in new HIV infection in the country, around 82 percent, over the last decade, according to National Centre of Aids and STD Control (NCASC).
There has been a sharp decline in new HIV infection in the country, around 82 percent, over the last decade, according to National Centre of Aids and STD Control (NCASC).
In 2001, the new HIV infections stood at 7,400, while in 2015 the number dropped to 1,331.
The drop in new HIV infection, experts said, is due to wide coverage of antiretroviral therapy (ART), wider access to contraceptives and increased awareness among the people. The first HIV case in Nepal was detected in 1988.
According to the NCASC, as of July 15, the reported HIV cases stood at 28,865 (17,949 males; 10,824 females, and 92 transgenders)
HIV infection in Nepal is concentrated among some key population including people who inject drugs (PWID), sex workers and their clients (male and female), men who have sex with men and transgender people, male labour migrants and their wives and prison inmates.
Reduction in new infection signifies many important achievements including the sharp drop in transmission rate among the 15-49 years age group population.
Satish Pandey, former country director of FHI 360, believes there has been significant improvement in measuring the infection rates.
“We now have better data on migrant population. Also, the HIV prevalence rate in many areas in India where Nepalis go has reduced resulting in reduced number of new infection,” said Pandey.
“Also, there is a growing safe practice among young injection drug users.”
Pandey added that the awareness about condom use among sex workers has also significantly contributed in curbing new HIV infection.
At present, there are two major focus of the HIV programme in the country—reducing new HIV infections and prolonging the lives of those living with HIV.
“The coverage of ART has not only prolonged the lives of people living with HIV but also has reduced the risk of transmission,” said Dr Hemanta Ojha, Chief Medical Officer at the Department of Health Services.
There are 65 ART centres in 59 districts with 12,446 HIV infected people enrolled in the government service.
ART began in February 2004 in Nepal from Sukraraj Tropical and Infectious Disease Hospital.
At present the HIV prevalence among adult population is below 1 percent. Despite some significant achievements, NCASC says, 85 percent of total HIV infection is due to unprotected sex.
As the country marked the World Aids Day on Thursday, Minister for Health Gagan Thapa released a five-year plan for various HIV interventions in the country.