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Egypt AIDS program: less than 2,000 patients in history
Published in Bikya Masr on 09 - 08 - 2010

CAIRO: Egypt's top national program to combat the spread of AIDS in the country has said that less than 2,000 cases have been reported in the country since the first case was reported in 1986. Mervat al-Husseini, an advisor to the National Program to Combat AIDS, said that the total number of AIDS patients in Egypt through the end of 2009 is 1,950.
She added that Cairo and Alexandria have reported the highest numbers since 1986.
During the “Right of People Living with HIV” conference last month, Husseini said that “this ration is small in Egypt in the presence of 70 million people,” pointing out that Egypt has many, unexplored cases “where there are certainly people who we've dealt with but do not know and there is an unjustified fear of the disease because we do not know about them [people].”
In recent years, Egyptian security forces have arrested people living with AIDS and have detained them indefinitely. Hussein argued that society must come to terms with the disease and information must be spread to educate the population further.
She argued there is a “lack of awareness of the community of the nature fo the transmission of the disease, as the transmission is confined to only three ways: either a sexual relationship, from a pregnant mother to her son or from contaminated needles.”
The national program has attempted to establish publicity for available treatments, Husseini told the conference. She said the most important thing a patient can do is to “deal with the disease, since it is a chronic disease such as Diabetes and blood pressure, where there is no cure yet discovered, but it is possible to stop the spread of the virus.”
Experts have reported that those suffering from HIV can live full and healthy lives as long as the appropriate cocktail of drugs are taken and the patient maintains diligence to fight the spread of the virus.
At a separate meeting, another advisor, Adel Malek, said that Egypt is one of the countries with the lowest rate of HIV/AIDS infections in the Middle East. He reported the spreading of the disease is no more than 0.02 percent of the population.
He stressed during a training course organized on the sidelines of Suzanne Mubarak's Regional Center for Health and Women Development in Alexandria.
“Egypt has achieved great success in combating the spread of the disease,” Malak said, adding that “the government's efforts in achieving the goals contained in the Declaration of Commitment on HIV for universal access to prevention, care, support and treatment, has been superb.”
He echoed Husseini's calls for awareness campaigns to take place in Egypt to contain the virus before it is able to spread to a greater percentage of the population. The national program, he said, is especially concerned with young people, women and health providers who can help prevent the spread of the virus.
He stressed the importance of surveillance for the spread of HIV and the prevention of transmission from an infected mother to the child and the provision of preventive doses of medicine to be used immediately after exposure, care and support for people living with the disease and to fight against the “stigmatization and discrimination of people living with the disease.”
He called for the provision of health advice for people most at risk of being exposed to AIDS in order to reduce the disease and “the alleviation of complications in addition to providing various alternatives of the diet of the newborn child by a mother infected with the virus and publicize the seriousness of breast milk of women infected in transmitting the infection to her baby.”
Malek said there is a need to strengthen information and “skills development” for doctors in the care of pregnant mothers infected with HIV, pointing to the need to profile groups at the “highest risk for HIV infection and to shed light on the rates of HIV infection globally, regionally and locally.”

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