More People in Lebanon at Risk of HIV Despite Country’s Prevention Campaign, Health Official Says
The number of people in Lebanon who are at risk of contracting HIV could increase despite the country's ongoing prevention campaigns, Mustafa al-Nakeeb, general-director of the National AIDS Control Program, said on Tuesday during a workshop in Beirut, Lebanon, the Beirut Daily Star reports.
Citing a recent study conducted by the nongovernmental organization Soins Infirmiers et Developpement Communautaire, al-Nakeeb said that HIV primarily is seen in vulnerable groups, including injection drug users and commercial sex workers, who spread the virus to the general population. The study indicated that the number of groups in Lebanon who are vulnerable to HIV is increasing. It also found that 37.9% of 894 people surveyed had no knowledge of HIV.
According to Michelle Ibenz of the Alliance Against AIDS, men who have sex with men also are "increasingly vulnerable to HIV due to a conservative legal, socio-cultural and religious environment that leads to high levels of stigma and discrimination." She added that the stigma leads to further alienation and complications because of unsafe sexual practices. Abused children in Lebanon also are at an increased risk of contracting HIV, al-Nakeeb said.
In response to the findings, SIDC recently launched a Web site that provides information on prevention methods, testing information, locations of local support centers, and links to other related Web sites and organizations. The SIDC program also distributes brochures, booklets and fliers about HIV and conducts awareness campaigns throughout the country. It also supplies condoms to bars and night clubs and provides judicial and psychological services, the Daily Star reports (Aridi, Beirut Daily Star, 7/25).