31 May 2007

80% unaware they have HIV

Around 80 per cent of people infected with the HIV virus in poor countries are unaware they are carrying the deadly disease, says the WHO and UNAIDS.

Around 80 per cent of people infected with the HIV virus in poor countries are unaware they are carrying the deadly disease because they do not get tested for it, the World Health Organization and UNAIDS said Wednesday in London, drawing particular attention to the situation in southern Africa.

Only 12 per cent of men and 10 per cent of women in southern Africa know their status after having undergone HIV testing, the two world bodies said.

Hospitals and health centres should actively recommend a HIV test whenever a patient showed signs of the virus, they advised.

Testing for all advised
In regions badly affected by HIV/Aids, healthcare workers should go further and recommend testing to all patients, the WHO and UNAIDS said. However, testing must remain voluntary, they stressed.

Until now, testing has only been carried out upon the patient's specific request. The stigma surrounding the disease and discrimination against sufferers means many in Africa never get tested.

The ability to treat the disease and prevent infection of others depends on being able to identify it as quickly as possible, the WHO and UNAIDS noted.

Sub-Saharan Africa has just over 10 per cent of the world's population but is home to nearly 26 million HIV infection cases, more than 60 per cent of cases worldwide, according to UNAIDS. – (Sapa-dpa) Read more:
HIV/Aids Centre

May 2007


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Dr Sindisiwe van Zyl qualified at the University of Pretoria in 2005. She is a patients' rights activist and loves using social media to teach about HIV. She is in private practice in Johannesburg.

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