Bhaktapur, August 25:

The number of people living with AIDS is increasing in Bhaktapur due to large number of sex workers and Injecting Drug Users (IDU).

Shankar Basnet, officer at District AIDS Coordination Committee (DACC), said drug users were also the main customers of sex workers. He said, “Among the total drug addicts in Bhaktapur, 73.9 per cent are vulnerable to HIV/AIDS.” Though the official data shows that there are only 522 drug addicts in Bhaktapur, NGOs estimate the number to be well above 800.

According to Basnet, there were more than 700 sex workers in the district. He said as most of the sex workers deny to have blood test openly it was difficult to identify who is infected with AIDS or who is not. “Ditto is the case with the drug addicts,” he said.

He said, “Among the total drug users, 80 per cent are between 15 to 30 years of age and most are unemployed. Sex worker are also the victims of poverty.”

Most of the sex workers were migrants from other districts and they landed in Bhaktapur while searching for jobs, he said.

He said the DACC has launched a programme to reduce the risk of AIDS by forming village level AIDS coordination committees in all VDCs of the district.