WHO set to survey HIV/AIDS incidence in Afghanistan

WHO set to survey HIV/AIDS incidence in Afghanistan

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Citing lack of reliable information about the level of HIV/AIDS infection in Afghanistan, the United Nations health agency said today it was set to begin a survey of HIV/AIDS and sexually transmitted diseases in the country.

A spokesperson for the World Health Organization (WHO) told a press briefing in Islamabad that based on currently available data, AIDS seems a minor health problem in Afghanistan, with only 10 cases reported to WHO to date, but other blood-borne infections such as hepatitis are major health concerns.

Although this is a limited number, Lori Hieber-Giradatet said, health officials recognize the need to start early in developing activities to contain AIDS because of the rapid speed in which the disease multiplies. The prevalence of blood-borne diseases, combined with the capacity of HIV to spread extremely rapidly, make gathering accurate information essential, Lori Hieber-Giradatet said.

WHO would also give priority to the establishment of safe blood banks, and to training Afghan technicians in blood testing procedures, she said.

According to WHO, each day 14,000 people around the world are infected with the deadly virus. Forty million people are living with HIV or AIDS, and about a third of them are between 15 and 24 years of age.