Japan To Assign Counselors to Core Hospitals To Provide People Affected by HIV/AIDS With Psychological Support, Officials Say
Japan's Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare plans to assign counselors to certain hospitals nationwide to provide people living with HIV/AIDS and their families with psychological support, ministry officials announced Friday, Kyodo News/Japan Today reports. The core hospitals are being established specifically to provide HIV/AIDS treatment services, and they eventually will cover every prefecture in the country (Kyodo News/Japan Today, 8/24).
The number of people newly diagnosed with HIV and those who developed AIDS in Japan in 2006 reached record highs of 914 and 390, respectively, according to data released by the Japanese AIDS Surveillance Committee. In addition, the report found that the number of people in Japan receiving no-cost HIV tests increased by 16.2% in 2006, suggesting that HIV/AIDS awareness in the country is increasing (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 2/9).
Although the number of people living with HIV in Japan is increasing, disparities still exist between regions and facilities in the country that offer counseling for people affected by the virus, according to Kyodo News/Japan Today. The health ministry aims to narrow such disparities by assigning at least one counselor to every core hospital, the officials said, adding that counselors greatly contribute to HIV/AIDS treatment. The ministry plans to request 90 million yen, or about $776,000, for labor and training expenses for the fiscal year 2008 budget, which begins April 1, according to officials. About 380 local hospitals are designated nationwide to provide HIV/AIDS treatment, and the core hospitals in each prefecture are expected to support the medical practices and training sessions of local hospitals, the officials said (Kyodo News/ Japan Today, 8/24).