69,790 HIV-positive in Nepal, says NCASC report

Kathmandu, April 18:

A recent government estimation has put the number of HIV infected people in Nepal at 69,790 in 2007 with 92 per cent of them from 15 to 49 years of age.

The estimation was made by the National Centre for AIDS and STD Control’s (NCASC). The figure was put at 70,259 in 2005.

Revealing the latest estimations, Dr Padam Bahadur Chand of the centre said that the estimates are based on all pertinent and available data that includes surveillance data among populations at higher risk of HIV infection among female sex workers (FSW) and clients, injecting drug users (IDUs), MSM (men having sex with men), migrant workers, data from antenatal clinics, population-based surveys, case reporting and other surveillance information.

The latest estimation shows that the number of people with living with HIV are declining, but this is not evaluation of effectiveness of the HIV related programmes, said Dr Sharad Onta, member secretary of National Health Research Council, adding that the current estimation is the result of adopting of available data, information and the latest research tools to bring out an accurate estimation.

Inclusion of former IDUs, FSWs and migrant workers who are not longer in high-risk behaviours but are infected and inclusion of HIV infection of sub-groups helped develop more accurate estimates, he said.

The estimation has divided the country into four epidemic regions: Highway districts with 49 per cent of HIV infections, Kathmandu valley and Far-western hills with 16 per cent each and remaining hills with 19 per cent.

Going by the age group, the estimations showed 92 per cent infections occurred among the age group 15 to 49 years 3 per cent infections among children and 5 per cent among adults above 50 years.

Among population group of 15 to 49 years, seasonal migrant labourers were the highest with 42 per cent HIV infections, rural female with 21 per cent, clients of sex workers 15 per cent, IDUs 10 per cent, urban female 5 per cent, MSM 4 per cent, female sex workers two per cent and returned trafficked women one per cent.

“The focus of interventions and prevention programmes should intensify to target groups where the risk of HIV transmission is the highest,” said Dr Chand, adding that the new data will be used to inform national-level planning processes such as the 2008-10 National Action Planning and setting in targets for prevention, treatment and care of people living with HIV and AIDS.

The estimations were carried out with technical assistance from UNAIDS, Family Health International and World Health Organisation.