At least 19,435 HIV cases have been reported in Iran, with more than 1,000 cases recorded since December 2008, according to a report recently released by the country's Ministry of Health, AFP/Google.com reports. Of the 19,435 cases, 1,875 cases have progressed to AIDS. The health ministry estimates that about 80,000 people are living with HIV in the country -- or four times the number of reported cases -- and that limited testing facilities and stigma are preventing people from accessing testing or reporting their status.
The highest HIV burden at 40.2% of recorded cases was among people ages 25 to 34, while 93.3% of cases were recorded among men. The report found that the most common mode of transmission was injection drug use, accounting for more than 77.5% of reported cases, followed by sexual contact, which accounted for about 13.1% of cases. In addition, mother-to-child transmission accounted for 0.9% of recorded cases. The health ministry said that there is concern that the sexual transmission of HIV could reach an epidemic level because about 60% of the country's almost 71 million population is under age 30, according to the 2006 national census (AFP/Google.com, 5/3). Health Minister Kamran Bageri Lankarani in December said that Iran aims to address the growing number of HIV/AIDS cases with an approach that includes harm reduction among injection drug users; a sexually transmitted infection education program for young people; and counseling and therapy programs (Xinhuanet, 5/4).
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