Globally, new HIV infections continue to fall and more people than ever are starting treatment.
With research providing solid evidence that antiretroviral therapy can prevent new HIV infections, the UNAIDS disclosed in its 2011 World AIDS Day report that 6.6 million people are now receiving treatment in low- and middle-income countries, nearly half those eligible.
The number of people dying of AIDS-related causes also fell to 1.8 million in 2010, down from a peak of 2.2 million in the mid-2000s.
A total of 2.5 million deaths have been averted in low- and middle-income countries since 1995 due to antiretroviral therapy being introduced, according to the organization’s new calculations.
At home, the government is following the trend, focusing on preventing new HIV infection to maintain the low prevalence of HIV/AIDS in the country, which currently stands at 0.3 percent of the overall population and hopes to have zero new HIV infections by 2015.
While an estimated 300,000 Indonesians are living with the virus, data from the Health Ministry revealed that new HIV cases declined to 15,589 last year from 21,591 in 2010. As of September 2011, the total number of HIV cases reached 71,437 cases.
The same trend is seen in new AIDS cases, which reached 1,805 in 2011, or down from 4,917 cases from the previous year. Overall, AIDS cases reached 28,041.
The AIDS National Commission (KPA) secretary Nafsiah Mboi earlier said that introducing people to more information on the dangers of HIV/AIDS, and implementing seven key strategies against the infection introduced by the commission, was crucial to achieving the government’s “zero” targets.
The key strategies include preventing infection through intravenous drug use, sexual intercourse and prenatal transmission, retroviral treatment and safety measures on blood and blood products.
Despite the promising developments, the stigma and discrimination which still surround AIDS may get in the way of reaching the zero targets.
Henry Rahardja — one of the founders of iVoice, an organization which supports improvement, change and empowerment in social issues like HIV/AIDS — was aware of pressures faced by people living with the virus from stories told by friends and health workers.
“Did you know that the government funded a study and found that only 9 percent of the general population is willing to assist people living with HIV?” he said, without elaborating.
“The survey did not ask questions that require heavy involvement from such people, but just for daily routines, like purchasing food or sending people living with HIV to hospital to receive their treatment.”
— JP/Stevie Emilia