Consistent use of condom and creating awareness can prevent unintended pregnancy and spread of HIV virus, health experts told a roundtable on Wednesday.
Prothom Alo, in association with Social Marketing Company (SMC) and USAID, organised the roundtable on social awareness and ways to prevent HIV-AIDS and unwanted pregnancy at Karwan Bazar’s CA Bhaban.
Assistant director general at Director General of Health Services (DGHS), AHM Enayet Hussain, said that to meet ‘90-90-90’ target of UNAIDS, there are obligations such as diagnosis of 90 per cent of all HIV-positive persons, providing antiretroviral therapy for 90 per cent of those diagnosed, and achieving viral suppression for 90 per cent of those treated by 2020.
He said the government has clear commitment to prevent HIV/AIDS, but affected people are still not interested to take treatment. Creating awareness is a solution to this problem, Enayet Hussain added.
Managing director and chief executive officer of Social Marketing Company (SMC), Ali Reza Khan, said expatriate Bangladeshi and Rohingya population are at greater risk of HIV-AIDS. Around 200 Rohingyas were diagnosed with AIDS in Cox’s Bazar last year.
He said there is no scope to be complacent although Bangladesh has a low prevalence rate of HIV.
According to the government estimation as of October 2018, 6,455 people have been diagnosed with HIV-AIDS and 1,072 died since first detection of the disease in Bangladesh in 1989, said health department’s AIDS/STD programme’s deputy director and programme manager Belal Hossain.
As many as 879 were detected with HIV positive in 2018, he said.
Family planning department’s director Mohammed Sharif said the authorities should consider feasibility of screening HIV at airports.
USAID’s project management specialist Samina Choudhury said only promotion of condom is not sufficient to prevent AIDS as awareness has to be created about other reasons of AIDS.
Dhaka University’s professor of population sciences department, Mohammad Bellal Hossain, regretted that the use of condom in Bangladesh is still low and inconsistent due to various myths and phobia associated with it.
Emphasising on awareness campaign, senior manager of health department’s AIDS/STD programme, Akhteruzzaman, said that there are 25 HIV testing centres across the country but affected people do not go to the facilities.
UNAIDS Bangladesh’s country manager Saima Khan stressed on creating social awareness saying that most of the HIV positive patients do not want to disclose their illness due to social stigma about the disease.
UNFPA’s programme expert Abu Sayed Mohammad Hasan said that 48 per cent of 4.8 million pregnancies in Bangladesh in a year are unwanted and most of them resort to unsafe abortion.
Speakers also stressed on the necessity of consistent use of condom by sex workers to prevent sexually transmitted diseases.
Icddr’b’s project coordinator of programme for HIV and AIDS AKM Masud Rana, Save the Children’s chief of party of HIV/AIDS programme Lima Rahman, SMC programme operation’s head of behaviour change communication Mohiuddin Ahmed and Mukto Akash Bangladesh’s deputy director Mizanur Rahman, among others, spoke at the roundtable moderated by Prothom Alo associate editor Abdul Quayyum.