Poverty, Population Movement Contributing to Spread of HIV in Sudan, U.N., Health Officials Say
August 12, 2008
Poverty and the movement of people displaced by war have contributed to an increase in the number of HIV/AIDS cases in Sudan, United Nations and Sudanese health officials said on Sunday, adding that a lack of data is hindering efforts to get an accurate picture of the disease in the country, the AP/International Herald Tribune reports. According to the officials, an estimated 1.6% of Sudan's 37 million people are living with HIV. However, the actual prevalence of HIV/AIDS likely is higher and improved surveillance would help determine that number, they added.
Zahir Babikr, an infectious disease specialist, said that some physicians in the capital of Khartoum and surrounding areas are reporting an average of three to five newly diagnosed HIV cases daily. "We need to do something about it," Babikr said.
A nationwide HIV/AIDS survey has not yet been conducted, the officials said, adding that conducting one without a reliable, updated census would be difficult. A national survey expected this year has been delayed until next year because of low funding, the AP/Herald Tribune reports. Musa Bungudu, the head of UNAIDS in Sudan, said that a serious response to HIV/AIDS in the country began about two years ago and that the country's religious leaders only recently condoned condom use. According to UNAIDS, HIV primarily is spread through sex, not drug use, in Sudan. In addition, stigma continues to pose challenges, and the country does not have a national condom campaign, according to the AP/Herald Tribune. HIV/AIDS centers primarily are located in large hospitals in cities, and most of the population does not have access to such services. Mohamed Abdel Hafeez, manager for Sudan's national HIV/AIDS program, said that training for physicians, efforts to combat stigma surrounding the disease and resources in remote areas are still lacking (El Deeb, AP/International Herald Tribune, 8/10).
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This article was provided by Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. It is a part of the publication Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report. Visit the Kaiser Family Foundation's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.