HIV-positive cases jump to 556 in Afghanistan

KABUL, 5 November 2009 (IRIN) - Over 50 people have been diagnosed as HIV-positive in Afghanistan over the past nine months, bringing the number of registered cases to 556, according to the National HIV/AIDS Control Programme.

"Most of them have got the virus through intravenous drug use," Malika Popal, the Programme's advocacy and communications adviser, told IRIN, adding that three HIV/AIDS patients had died so far this year.

The Health Ministry estimates 2,000-3,000 people are living with HIV/AIDS in Afghanistan. The virus prevalence rate of about 0.5 percent is considered among the lowest in the world.

Armed conflict, lack of awareness of HIV/AIDS, lack of access to basic social services such as education and health, rising intravenous drug addiction, and the poor social status of women are among the factors which, experts say, could lead to a rapid spread of HIV/AIDS. 

 Source: Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN), a project the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. IRIN is UN humanitarian news and information service, but may not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations or its agencies.

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