Syria is still among countries with low prevalence of Human immune-deficiency virus (HIV) epidemic, Assistant Health Minister Ahmad Khlifawi said, adding that “since 1987, a total of 961 HIV infection cases were registered, of which 619 were Syrians.”
He noted that 59 new HIV infection cases are registered in 2018, pointing out that the Ministry is providing treatment to 200 patients living with this virus.
Khlifawi said a survey was launched in areas restored by the Syrian Arab army in order to determine undiagnosed HIV infection cases due to the inhumane conditions prevailed in terrorist-held areas such as blood transfer, informal marriage and surgeries in unhealthy environment.
In turn, Head of the National Program for Combating AIDS at the Ministry, Jamal Khamis, noted that the program offers free treatment for patients with HIV infection, adding that the largest number of infection cases has been registered in major cities.
“HIV infection cases distributed as 78% for males and 22% for females, including 6 children all of whom are receiving treatment,” said Khamis, pointing out that some of the highest HIV rates are among youth aged 25 to 35, followed by persons aged 36 – 40.
For his part, Dr. Omar Abu Na’aj from the National Program said the practice of sexual misconduct is the main cause of infection in Syria, adding that neither blood transfusion-associated HIV cases nor HIV-infected patients receiving dialysis have been reported since 1992.
Dr. Roua Hawraniyeh said that the virus is typically transmitted via sexual intercourse, shared intravenous drug paraphernalia, blood transfusion and mother-to-child transmission.
Speaking at an event organized by the Health Ministry marking World AIDS Day, Resident Representative of the WHO in Syria, Elizabeth Huff, said the Syrian experience in controlling and managing communicable diseases in pre-crisis stage was pioneering on the regional level.”
Since 2007, the Syrian Health Ministry provided voluntary counseling and testing (VCT) for diagnosis of HIV infection as well as free treatment and psychological support and awareness raising activities for those who are living with this virus through 26 labs and centers which have been reduced to 12 due to the terrorist war waged on Syria.
The UN statistics indicate that there are an estimated 37 million people who have the virus. Even though, UNAIDS report on the global AIDS epidemic report shows reaching out 75% of all people living with HIV, a step closer to UNAIDS 90–90–90 targets to end the AIDS epidemic by 2020.