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Health - December 28, 2023

Bangladesh records highest number of HIV/AIDS deaths in 2023

Rafiqul Islam Azad:
Bangladesh recorded the highest number of death cases due to HIV/AIDS in 2023 and detected the highest number of patients living with the deadly disease during the same period, leaving the country at serious health risks.
As of December 27, a total of 266 people died of HIV/AIDS, and 1,250 new cases were detected in Bangladesh this year surpassing all the previous records in terms of deaths and detection of the deadly disease since 1989. As such, more than three people are affected by this disease every day in the country, according to the sources in the Directorate of Health Services.
The first AIDS patient was diagnosed in Bangladesh in 1989 while the first death due to the disease occurred in 2000. Since then, the number of AIDS deaths has increased almost every year. A total of 10,984 people were diagnosed with HIV/AIDS in the country in 34 years from 1989 to 2023. Of them, 2,086 people died during the period.
The second-highest number of cases and deaths due to HIV/AIDS occurred in 2022, with the detection of 947 cases and 232 deaths. Earlier, in 2021, a total of 729 people were diagnosed with AIDS in the country, among them 205 people died, according to the sources.
Meanwhile, speaking at a discussion meeting, Director General of the Directorate of Health Services Prof Dr. ABM Khurshid Alam termed bringing AIDS patients under-diagnosis and treatment as a major challenge for the country.
He said the government has provided free medicines and treatment. Even after that, this disease is still not under control. During surgery in different hospitals in our country, different types of equipment are used repeatedly, this disease also spreads from this.
The National Cancer Research Institute and Hospital organised the meeting at its auditorium on Wednesday (December 28) to mark the World AIDS Day.
Additional Secretary of Health and Family Welfare Ministry Md. Saidur Rahman said, there is no more publicity about AIDS, this is our big deficiency. There is no AIDS treatment in all the hospitals of the country, there is no specialized hospital either, he added.
Additional Director General of the Department of Health Professor Dr. Ahmedul Kabir said that our first target in controlling AIDS is to identify patients infected with HIV. We will be successful if the AIDS detection rate is 95 percent. Our detection rate is now 75 percent, which is unacceptable. The remaining 25 percent carry and spread the disease.
According to the information of the Directorate of Health Services, among the newly identified 1,250 people, the number of ordinary people is higher. The male sex workers (homosexuals) and people of the third gender remained in second place.
There are approximately 14,500 cases of HIV infection in the country. Among them, 9,708 people were identified from 1989 to 2022. About 7,000 patients are receiving free medicine and medical care through 13 hospitals.
HIV positive are found among seven categories of people including common people in the country. Most of the new patients diagnosed last year, i.e. 33 percent, were from the common people while 36 percent from vulnerable populations, 18 percent migrant workers, and 13 percent Rohingya from Myanmar. Besides, homosexual men were 14 percent, intravenous drug users 11 percent, male sex workers 9 percent, female sex workers 1 percent, and people with tuberculosis 1 percent of the risk population.
Among the new patients last year, 70.5 percent were men, 27 percent were women and 0.8 percent were transgender.
AIDS patients were found in eight districts last year. Of the 947 newly diagnosed patients, Dhaka had the highest number of 240. Among the remaining patients, 207 were found in Chattogram, 126 in Khulna, 96 in Rajshahi, 57 in Barisal, 53 in Sylhet.
The infection of HIV has recently been found abnormally in Sirajganj, a northern district of the country with the detection of 144 HIV patients from August 2022 to October 2023. 98 percent of them take drugs through syringes.
The program manager of the AIDS/STD program of the Department of Health Dr. Abdul Wadud said that although HIV is a contagious disease and there is nothing to fear or hide it as there are all types of treatment for this disease.
“HIV will never be negative. But if a patient takes the medicine regularly, the level of the virus in his body will be low and he can live like a healthy person,” he added.
Officials of the concerned department said that currently 28 hospitals and centers of the country are providing free AIDS treatment and HIV testing.
The state-run agency Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS) believes that the risk of AIDS infection among women is increasing due to lack of expected growth in awareness raising.
Meanwhile, UNICEF says that by 2030, around 360,000 adolescents worldwide could die from AIDS-related diseases. Without increased investment in HIV prevention, testing and treatment programs, 76 teenagers will die every day.
According to the agency’s report ‘Children, HIV and AIDS: The World by 2030’, if current trends in population growth continue, the number of people aged 0-19 living with HIV will reach an estimated 270,000 by 2030, about one-third less than current estimates.

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