Risk Factors for Spread of HIV in Afghanistan High, Health Ministry Says
Although the prevalence of HIV/AIDS is relatively low in Afghanistan, the country's Ministry of Public Health recently said that the potential risk factors for the spread of the virus are high, Reuters reports.
In a statement, the ministry said that 435 HIV cases have been reported in Afghanistan but that there are an estimated 2,000 to 2,500 cases among the country's 26 million people. Although the cases still reflect a relatively low prevalence, several factors -- including "war, poverty, illiteracy, massive international and external displacement, the high level of poppy cultivation, drug trafficking and usage, the existence of commercial and unsafe sex, unsafe injection practices and blood" transfusions -- are "potential risk factors for its spread," according to the health ministry.
According to Reuters, there is widespread stigma and a lack of awareness about the disease in Afghanistan. The World Bank has granted $10 million to the health ministry for identifying and creating public awareness among groups most at risk of HIV/AIDS, the government said (Salahuddin, Reuters, 5/26).