Afghan AIDS Control Program Reports 556 HIV Cases Through 2008
Afghanistan had recorded 556 HIV cases by the end of 2008, according to a recently released report from the National AIDS Control Program, the Pajhwok Afghan News reports. However, the health ministry on Tuesday said that there likely are 2,000 to 2,500 HIV-positive people in the country. According to the ministry, studies have shown that HIV prevalence among the general population is about 0.5%, while it is about 3% among the country's injection drug users. Ministry officials say that although HIV prevalence is low compared to other countries, 30 years of war, poverty, high levels of poppy cultivation and trafficking, and commercial sex work have created risk factors for the spread of HIV.
Public Health Minister Sayed Mohammad Amin Fatimie said the availability of antiretroviral drugs "helps us to prevent further spread of HIV in the society" and "saves lives of many HIV-positive people." He also said that health officials are committed to keeping Afghanistan's HIV prevalence relatively low. According to the News, Fatimie on Tuesday opened the country's first-ever hospital for people living with HIV/AIDS in the capital of Kabul. The hospital cost $110,000 and was supported by USAID. Additionally, NACP is attempting to implement a national HIV/AIDS strategy within the country in partnership with donors, the government and nongovernmental organizations (Salehi, Pajhwok Afghan News, 4/21).