Spread of HIV/AIDS scourge can hit tourism industry hard

Kathmandu, January 19:

Speakers at a programme organised by Nepal HIV/AIDS Alliance stressed today the need to check the spread of the disease at the earliest before it hit the tourism industry.

Dr Sharad Raj Onta, vice-chairperson and chief executive of HIV/AIDS and STI Control Board stated that those at risk include intravenous drug users, commercial sex workers and their clients, homosexuals, migrant labourers and their spouses living in Nepal.

He said they had estimated about 70,000 HIV positive cases in the country, of which only 15,000 had been reported and the number increases by 20-30,000 every year. He said there were around 30,000 sex workers who entertained six lakh clients. He said of the 15 lakh Nepalis working outside Nepal three lakh were vulnerable to AIDS.He claimed that the root cause of the spread of HIV/AIDS was paid sex. Prachanda Man Shrestha , CEO of Nepal Tourism Board, said check-posts should be set up to test the tourists for HIV/AIDS.