HIV :: HIV cases on the rise in Bhutan

There has been an alarming rise in the number of HIV patients in Bhutan, with the Health Ministry detecting about 20 cases this year.

During a recent routine screening, seven persons, four of them women, were found infected with HIV, a ministry statement said.

According to the Director of Public Health Department, Ugen Dophu, almost 90 per cent of HIV infections are through sexual practices such as multiple partners, casual sex, and lesser use of condoms.

“Despite continuing efforts to curb the spread, people are not changing their sexual behaviour,” said Dophu.

Currently, Bhutan has 101 people living with HIV/AIDS, 55 of whom are women. Twenty-four people have died since the first HIV case was detected in the Himalayan nation in 1993.

In 2006, 28 HIVAIDS cases were detected.

Dophu said the infected people cuts across all sections of society and is inclusive of government and corporate employees, businessmen, uniformed personnel, monks and even farmers.

Young people are more vulnerable to the epidemic in Bhutan and currently account for 23 per cent of the infected population, Dophu said.

Faced with the sudden rise in the number of HIV positive people, the government is initiating a number of drives including awareness and distribution of free condoms among men.

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