SUDAN WATCH: In Mundri, southern Sudan, HIV/AIDS infection is 3 per cent

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

In Mundri, southern Sudan, HIV/AIDS infection is 3 per cent

From SRS - Sudan Radio Service, Tuesday, December 1, 2009:
(Khartoum - Mundri – Malakal – Wau) – Events were organized throughout Sudan on Tuesday to mark World AIDS Day.

Sudan has seen the rate of HIV/AIDS increase steadily in recent years with the number of cases accelerating dramatically, particularly in southern Sudan, since the end of the civil war in 2005.

Although people in northern Sudan are often reluctant to talk openly about the disease, according to the senior HIV/AIDS counselor in Al-Sahafa Hospital in Khartoum, Amna Abdelhalim Mohammed, increasing numbers of people are turning up voluntarily for testing at Voluntary Testing and Couseling centers.

[Amna Abdelhalim Mohammed]: “The numbers have increased. We started in 2003 and between then and 2009, the numbers have increased a lot. In the beginning, we used to handle one or two cases a month but now we test between 108 and 119 people every month. The results of the test used to show one or two HIV-positive people in a month but now up to thirteen a month are testing positive. The more people come for testing, the more the number of positive tests we get. Frankly, this number has increased and it is not a solution for us to keep burying our heads in the sand. We are supposed to have a complete center that gives treatment.”

In Western Equatoria, the number of HIV positive people has also increased over the years. Here, however, HIV/AIDS groups talk openly about the virus. The commissioner of Mundri West county, Bullen Abiter, urges the communities to continue going for tests to monitor their status.

[Bullen Abiter]: “In Mundri, the percentage of HIV/AIDS infection is 3 per cent. And this shows that AIDS has begun to get a grip. If someone has HIV/AIDS, that is not the end of everything. That person can still live like any other normal person if he or she takes their medication. The ARVs can make you live for even 15 to 20 years.

The important thing is that people should go for an HIV test. After the test, you will be advised on what to do.”

In Malakal, Angelo Michael Waan is the director-general of the Upper Nile AIDS Commission.

[Angelo Michael Waan]: “In Upper Nile state we don’t have statistics of people with HIV/AIDS because we didn’t do any research. But with the people coming to test for HIV in our centers, it indicates that there is an increase in numbers. So now we are urging our people to be tested so that we can know how many people are affected in our state. We are now working with schools in the awareness campaigns because AIDS is not just the responsibility of the Ministry of Health alone but it is also the responsibility of everyone and especially the media.”

Dominica Thomas is a student in Wau. She too stresses the importance of being tested for the disease.

[Dominica Thomas]: “If someone gets tested and didn’t get it in his or her body, I’ll say that that person doesn’t have the virus at that moment. But if people don’t want to get tested, I’ll say that everyone in Wau here has HIV, because it’s only when you get tested that you will know your HIV status. We have to fight HIV/AIDS because this is a very bad disease for our children, our fathers, and mothers and for all the generations, all over the world.”

World AIDS Day was organized in Sudan by NGOs working in the prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS, Unicef and the GOSS Ministry of Health.

The theme for this year's event was “Universal Access and Human Rights”.

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