January 21, 2017 (BOR) -At least 1, 067 people are currently living with HIV/Aids in South Sudan’s Jonglei state, an official disclosed.
- Jonglei state HIV/Aids and STI coordinator Ajak Mach Gut, January 20, 2017 (ST)
In an interview with Sudan Tribune Friday, the coordinator for HIV/Aids and Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs), Ajak Mac Gut, said infection was prevalence rate was high within ages 15 to 46.
“HIV is very high among the youth, mostly from the age of 15 to 46. These people are vulnerable group to the disease, as most of them are victims of HIV”, Mac said during the interview at Bor hospital.
HIV, the main cause of Acquired Immune-Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS), is described as a condition in human beings in which progressive failure of the immune system allows life-threatening opportunistic infections and cancers, which could lead to death.
According to state statistics, 785 people lived with the virus in 2015, but the number of infected persons rose to 1,067 by the end of 2016.
Mac said the rise in cases of the deadly disease could mainly be attributed to returnees from Eastern African countries, who took refuge in Kenya, Uganda and Ethiopia during the long civil war.
“During the years of civil war, many people from here went to Kenya, others went to Uganda and Ethiopia. When they started coming back homes, most of them came with this disease and then they passed it on to others,” he told Sudan Tribune.
However, although HIV/Aids related death tolls have not been ascertained in the state, it is highly believed to be a contributing factor to the current mortality rate in Jonglei, the official stressed.
“The HIV infection rate in Jonglei state could be more than 1.3 per cent, which the national infection rate,” explained Mac.
Out of the 1,067 infected people, only 599 people are reportedly registered in the state hospital for monthly drug supply, which are used to suppress the virus to undetectable levels, when adhered to.
Mac further said a total of 468 people had dropped out from taking drugs in the state hospital and other health facilities in the counties.
“Some of these people are feared dead while others might have registered in other places within or outside the country for treatment,” he added.
According to the health official, majority of the pregnant mothers who were found to be HIV positive in Jonglei state, neither turned up for drugs, nor informed their husbands about their health status.
Last year, Mac said, 84 pregnant women were found HIV positive, but only three were coming for drugs, while 81 never showed up.
“These 81 women have their 81 husbands who are also infected, but they had not come back for drugs. Some did not even inform their husbands about their status, so this is a big challenge,” said Mac.
He added, “Some of these men could be having more than two wives, so all of them may be infected. In this case, the number of infection outside there is very high”.
He advised the youth to stop involving themselves in random sex activities to prevent the infection. He encouraged the use of condoms, voluntary testing and counseling as well as abstinence.