Over 36,000 Iranians living with HIV: Health official

November 30, 2017

TEHRAN — As per the latest statistics published by Iran’s Ministry of Health, 36,039 individuals were suffering from HIV in the country until late June, a health official has said.

The number only accounts for 30 percent of the individuals who are affected with the virus and the ministry have reasons to believe that some 70 percent of those who are infected by the virus are still undiagnosed, Parvin Kazerouni, head of AIDS department of the Ministry of Health, explained. 

Of the 36,039 patients suffering the infection 84 percent are men and the rest are women, ISNA news agency quoted Kazerouni as saying. “52 percent of the HIV sufferers age between 21 to 35 years old.”

Some 9,764 individuals diagnosed with HIV are dead and 14,656 are at the very final stage of HIV infection, known as AIDS, she added.

Overall sharing contaminated needles, syringes and other injecting equipment and drug solutions when injecting drugs is still the major cause of HIV transmission in Iran. 

However, the ministry have worries over the shifting patterns of HIV transmission in the country as having unprotected and high risk sexual intercourses are becoming the leading cause of the virus transmission.

For one, as Kazerouni have explained some 33 percent of the cases diagnosed with HIV over the first three months of the current year (March 21 to June 21) were women and that 47.8 percent of the cases have most probably contracted with the virus by having unprotected sexual relationships. 

Some 32.7 are infected by sharing drug needles with someone who is infected with HIV, 2 percent of the cases are attributed to mother-to-child transmission of HIV [the spread of HIV from a woman living with HIV to her child during pregnancy, childbirth, or breastfeeding] and 17.4 have got the virus through other ways, she highlighted.  

Iran joined “Ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030” international program to halt spread of the disease by 2030 and committed to “Target 90-90-90” which aims at HIV treatment and prevention for 2020, she said.

Ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030 is a fast-track strategy of the United Nations which proposes rapid and massive acceleration of HIV prevention and treatment programs for ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030. Target 90-90-90 would enable 90 percent of people living with HIV to know their HIV status, 90 percent of people who know their status to access HIV treatment and 90 percent of people on HIV treatment to achieve viral suppression.

According to World Health Organization (WHO) HIV continues to be a major global public health issue, having claimed more than 35 million lives so far. In 2016, 1.0 million people died from HIV-related causes globally.

There were approximately 36.7 million people living with HIV at the end of 2016 with 1.8 million people becoming newly infected in 2016 globally.

54% of adults and 43% of children living with HIV are currently receiving lifelong antiretroviral therapy (ART).

MQ/MG

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