By: Tahani al-Sabri
On December 10th, Yemen launched several activities as part of the international day commemorating the fight against AIDS. The Ministry of Public Health and Population worked with the National Program to Fight AIDS and Sexually Transmitted Diseases in organizing a ceremony, which also involved the participation of the National Campaign for Examination and Advice.
During the celebration, the Undersecretary of the Ministry of Public Health and Population, Dr. Majid Aljunied said, “this disease has been known around the world for over three decades, and received interest from organizations, donors, and other involved parties. This interest is not reserved to the health field, but also covers the effects of the disease on social economic and cultural rights areas.”
“The world has made considerable progress in fighting AIDS…these efforts have been very successful, as shown by diminishing rates of infection of death.”
Dr. Aljunied expressed regret that Yemen’s Eastern region still shows a growing number of cases of the disease, while the infection has begun to subside in a number of other provinces. Knowledge and awareness of the disease are considered the main pillars of protecting communities, said the undersecretary.
Dr. Abdul Hameed Suhaibi, director of the national program to fight AIDS, explained that the first reported cases of AIDS in Yemen recorded in 1987. The current cumulative number of official registered cases currently still sits at 3,922. Yemen is still classified as a country of low-prevalence AIDS. He mentioned, however, that “potential estimates indicate the estimated number of HIV infection in Yemen could be as high as 35,000 cases.”
Dr. Suhaibi listed a number of factors that contribute to the spread of AIDS, such as migration, mobility, lack of awareness and the economic situation and other factors.
Osama Mari, the representative of the WHO office in Yemen, reviewed the organization’s efforts to help Yemen in fighting AIDS, in part through the establishment of five centers for treatment of the disease in a number of provinces and the training of doctors, nurses and technicians. The organization has also provided varied health counseling services and helped prepare a community guide on AIDS treatments.
A slide show on awareness, counseling, testing, care and treatment of AIDS was also shown during the event.
This ceremony is only one of a series of recent events related to AIDS in Yemen. The national program to combat AIDS and sexually transmitted diseases organized a recent press conference on the problem of AIDS in Yemen and how to counter it.
At the conference, Dr. Suhaibi and Dr. Fawzia Gharama, coordinator of the Joint United Nations Program on AIDS, emphasized the importance of increasing the coverage of treatments for the AIDS disease, which is still low in Yemen.
They explained the importance of correcting common misconceptions about the disease, such as common modes of transmission, as well as addressing the factors that lead to its spread. The doctors mentioned their appreciation for the media’s role in raising awareness of the disease and the need to find solutions to the social and economic problems associated with it.