Sanitation crucial for longevity of HIV+

LALITPUR: Greater attention to water and sanitation by People Living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA) could lead to their longevity, health experts said.

Speaking at an interaction on HIV/AIDS and its Linkage with Water, Sanitation and Hygiene, jointly organised by UN-HABITAT and Guthi here in the capital today, Lyneette Injette Ochola of UN-HABITAT, Kenya, said that insecure water supply and sanitation exacerbated the life risk to the HIV positives.

"The immune system of PLWHA is more susceptible to water and sanitation related opportunistic diseases," she said, adding, "Safe water, sanitation and hygienic behaviour and improved drainage and solid waste management help infected people stay healthier, longer and allow them to continue to work and sustain their families."

There is more likelihood of diarrhoeal and skin-related diseases among PLWHA. She noted that the PLWHA required more and better water services and reliable sanitation. "Therefore, in places where there are many PLWHA, the water demand automatically increases."

According to a 2008 survey, almost 5 million people living in Asia are infected with HIV. In 2007, some 440,000 people were infected with HIV and 300,000 others died of AIDS-related diseases, she said.

"Asia's HIV pandemic is now entering into a second growth phase, which, if expanded prevention efforts are not introduced, might push HIV prevalence to almost 10 million by 2020," she remarked.

Mahesh Bhatt from Nepal Red Cross Society said that there was a big challenge for the longevity of the PLWHA in Nepal as they were living scattered. "Water and sanitation are not properly managed in the rural parts of the country, which has aggravated their situation there."