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SUDAN: Health workers report rise in HIV

Photo: UNICEF/Ben Parker
Condom use remains low in the south
Yambio, 17 June 2009 (PlusNews) - Healthcare workers in Yambio, capital of Sudan's Western Equatoria State, have warned that the number of HIV-positive people receiving treatment has risen, and they cannot keep up with the demand for medication.

About 700 HIV-positive people are being treated by a local faith-based group, the Christian Brothers. "The issue of HIV in Yambio is getting bigger and bigger every day; we even find difficulty to provide services due the big numbers of people who are infected with HIV and AIDS," said Brother Daniel Pius.

The centre they run receives funding, powdered milk and non-food items for mothers and children from the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF), but still struggles to cope with demand. Staff say the number of HIV-positive people coming for medicines has doubled in the past two years.

"One reason there is an increase is because more people are going to be tested, so more people are finding out that they are HIV-positive," Pius said. "But the cases are also getting bigger because men are not protecting themselves."

A 2006 household health survey found that only 45 percent of women aged 15-49 had ever heard of HIV, while only 9.8 percent knew the three main ways of preventing HIV. According to a more recent survey, fewer than one in four men in Juba, capital of southern Sudan, reported consistent condom use every time they had sex with a casual partner.

But prevention efforts are underway, according to Patrick Wambua, HIV/AIDS officer for the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) in southern Sudan. "Condoms are only one part of the package to prevent HIV; awareness, education and training are also key."

Statistics on HIV in southern Sudan are hard to come by; overall prevalence is estimated at 3.1 percent but survey results vary widely, from as low as 0.8 in one sentinel site to 11.5 percent in another.

A 2005 peace agreement ended a two-decade civil war, but analysts have expressed concern that the region is now at greater risk as a result of increased trade with neighbouring countries like Uganda, Kenya and the Democratic Republic of Congo, all of which have generalized epidemics.


Theme (s): Care/Treatment - PlusNews, HIV/AIDS (PlusNews),

[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]

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