At least 658 new AIDS cases were detected while 141 patients died in Bangladesh in 2020.
With this, Bangladesh so far detected 8,031 AIDS patients and 1,383 of them died, according to the Directorate General of Health Services’ AIDS programme.
The statistics were presented at a programme at Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy in the capital on Tuesday marking World AIDS Day 2020 organised by the DGHS.
DGHS director general ABM Khurshid Alam said that the testing services were hampered in 2020 due to the coronavirus situation resulting in a low number of detected people.
‘The number would be higher if we run more tests,’ he said.
Last year, the number of new cases was 919 and the number of deaths was 170.
He urged people to get tests done as the government provides free testing and treatment facilities.
‘Undetected patients pose serious risks of infecting others,’ he said, adding that treatment of HIV infected people often results in the virus to spread among the healthcare providers, especially those who are involved in surgery.
At Tuesday’s event, TB and AIDS/STD programme line director Shamiul Islam disclosed the yearly report of AIDS.
He said that an estimated 14,000 people are living with AIDS in Bangladesh but about 43 per cent of them remained undiagnosed.
He said that among the new cases, 124 were Rohingya people.
About 33 per cent of the newly infected were among the general population, 15 per cent were migrants, 20 per cent were injecting drug users, 19 per cent were Rohingya people, 5 per cent were gay people, 5 per cent were male sex workers, 2 per cent were transgender and 1 per cent were female sex workers.
Over 70 per cent of the AIDS patients were married while 23 per cent were single and others were divorced, separated and widowed.
In terms of age, maximum number, or 74 per cent, were in the age group of 25-49 years, 9 per cent were in 19-24 years, over 2 per cent in 10-18 years, about 1 per cent in 6-9 years, nearly 2 per cent were below 5 years and the rest of them were above 50 years.
Shamiul said that the HIV prevalence in Bangladesh was still less than 1 per cent among the population, but the challenges remained in detecting the undiagnosed patients, who unknowingly infect others.
Tracking infected returnee migrants and bringing them under treatment was also a key challenge, he said.
Health secretary Abdul Mannan said that Bangladesh targeted the eradication of HIV by 2030 and it would be possible by early detection and treatment of undiagnosed people.
He said, ‘The COVID-19 outbreak sensitised us about how to protect ourselves from getting infected from the virus and such enhanced awareness would help us detect undiagnosed HIV patients.’
The secretary urged people to wear masks and maintain physical distancing as such practices are crucial until Bangladesh gets the vaccines.
He hoped that the government would bring the COVID-19 vaccines in February.
Bangladesh as elsewhere in the world observed World AIDS Day 2020 on Tuesday.
This year, the theme of the day was ‘Global Solidarity, Shared Responsibility’.
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