11/03/2015, 00.00
SRI LANKA
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Among nations with lowest rate of HIV infection, but only a quarter of patients receive care

by Melani Manel Perera
The data of the annual report made by the National STD / AIDS Control Program of the Ministry of Health together with UNAIDS. The most affected are men between 15 and 49; the western districts recorded highest infection rates. Less than 1% of the population has contracted the virus (3600 total cases), but of 1,732 cases diagnosed only about 825 people testing positive have undergone medical treatment.

Colombo (AsiaNews) - 3600 people infected with HIV (human immunodeficiency virus), live in Sri Lanka, of which the majority belongs to the 15 – 49 age group. In 2014 there were 228 new cases of infection and the first nine months of 2015 other 173.  The most affected districts are those in the western part of the country.  Finally, since the first infection was detected in 1987, there have been 357 deaths from the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), of which only 93 in 2013.

These were the findings revealed in the annual report compiled by the National STD / AIDS Control Program of the Ministry of Health, which monitors the virus in the Asian nations, where the risk of infection is among the lowest in the world.

According to the report, drawn up with the help of UNAIDS [Joint United Nations program on HIV / AIDS - ed], 76% of patients are over 15 years of age and most of them are masculine (69%). Of about 228 new cases registered in 2014, over 80% of infections occurred among heterosexuals and the remaining transmission was among gay and bisexual men.

The document indicates that there was a single case of transmission of the virus to a fetus in 2014 and that the area most affected (56%) is that of the western districts of Colombo, Gampaha and Puttalam, where there are 10 cases of infection per 100 thousand inhabitants.

Given the small numbers, Sri Lanka has been categorized as a country with low risk of contagion since the virus was registered in less than 1% of the population. Not all patients, however, have recourse to medical care: according to Dr. Dayanath Ranatunga, country manager of UNAIDS, out of over 1,732 diagnosed cases, only 825 HIV-positive people have traveled to the hospital for medical treatment.

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