Some 1, 830 persons living with HIV / AIDS in Tunisia (Health Ministry)
07/12/2017 17:23, TUNIS/Tunisia

(TAP) - The number of people living with HIV / AIDS in Tunisia reached 1,830 up to October 31, 2017, out of a total of 2,475 reported cases since 1985, date of appearance of the 1st case carrying this virus in Tunisia, revealed Thursday Co-ordinator of the National Programme to Combat AIDS and Sexually Transmitted Diseases in the Health Ministry Hayet Hamdouni.

 "Half of all HIV cases in Tunisia are between the ages of 25 and 44," said Hamdouni at a round table meeting on Friday, specifying that unprotected sexual relations are the main mode of transmission of this virus, followed by blood transmission, which involves the use of syringes that are already in use and mainly regards people who take drugs intravenously.

She added that mother-to-child transmission represents 3% per year.

Based on the estimates of the UN AIDS programme, she pointed out that the number of reported cases represents only 60% of the actual number of persons living with AIDS in Tunisia.

In this regard, Hamdouni called for the need to increase early detection operations, particularly in interior regions, in order to detect the remaining 40% of cases.

She denied in a statement to the media, the information that AIDS treatments are out of stock, saying they are available and free, explaining that 33 laboratories and 25 centres of orientation and anonymous screening are available to patients to conduct the necessary analyses and examinations.

 Representative of UNAIDS to Tunisia Lassad Soua said that according to the 2016 international reports, 36.7 million persons suffer from this disease, 45% of whom had access to healthcare.

He indicated that the number of cases recorded in the MENA region amounts to 230 thousand, only 24% have access to treatment.

Soua reported that 1.8 million new cases are registered each year worldwide, a decrease of 11% compared to 2010.

In addition, 18 thousand new cases are registered in the MENA region, a decrease of 4% compared to 2010.

 Soua expressed "concern" about the 19% increase in the rate of AIDS deaths in the MENA region, explaining this situation by a failure in the early detection system.

This is also due to the patients' lack of access to treatment because, according to him, they are often exposed to social stigmatisation.

Taking the floor on the occasion, Health Minister Imed Hammemi pointed out that efforts will be exerted to implement decentralisation in AIDS response by involving the private sector in order to provide social support to the poorest categories.

He also called for a participatory approach to provide the necessary material and human resources to implement plans to combat the virus and address social stigma.

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