Dec 2, 2008

Karzari Soldiers at the Risk of HIV/AIDS

The 20th anniversary of the World AIDS Day in Afghanistan was celebrated in a situation that the National AIDS Control Program (NACP) has recorded 505 HIV positive cases of which 7 patients were died because of this disease while last year there were only around 250 positive cases.

The Public Health minister Mr.Amin Fatimi who attended in the World AIDS Day ceremony was very angry at one of his Rival parliament delegate who had criticized on his ministry but didn’t say anything worthy about AIDS challenges and current situation and the Russian Center in Kabul and many others in the other provinces in the 2008 ceremony.

Dr.Nimatullah Head of Health Commission of the lower house says that even though Health minister of Karzai Administration claiming his ministry one of the most successful, most of his ministry staff don’t exactly know what is HIV / AIDS and how it is transmitted? Why isn’t he starting awareness from his own ministry instead of getting mad on the delegates and media criticizing his ministry?

The most risk that endangers people to be affected with HIV/AIDS is the Russian Cultural Center in the west of Kabul city only one kilometer far from the parliament, here reports say that around 3000 drug users, injector and dealers are living and around 500 to 1000 stay there nights and at least 5 die a month in this place.

NACP claims to have recorded 2000 – 3000 positive all over the country along with 19000 Injecting Drug Users (IDUs)।This program wants to decrease the above number to 0.5 percent by 2010.There are only 6 Volunteer Counseling and Testing Centers (VCTs) in Kabul, Heart, Jalalabad, Mazar-e-Sharif, Badakhshan and Kabul Central Jail but still people don’t know or don’t want to go to these center due to many cultural and religious believes.

Currently , Harm Reduction, Advocacy and communication in the different layers of the communities, testing the use of Opiod Substitution Therapy (OST), Basic Health Packages for HIV/AIDS positives or HV/AIDS at Risk Groups, Integration of the HIV/AIDS educational materials in the curriculum of the schools and universities, Health shelter Programs, Coordination of HIV/AIDS activities all over the country with related institutions like Parliaments, Police, Related Ministries, Provincial Councils, Mullahs, Support and advise media on wider and better coverage of HIV/AIDS at national level are the projects’ activities that are presently being funded to implement project in the provinces, but how effective would these projects be is another main question that should be answered by Health ministry of Karzai administration।

In spite of the above activities and services, Karzai or the new upcoming administration substituting Karzai polluted administration should and will have to face stigma and discrimination, lack of access to the remote areas, political commitment, rapid improvement of injecting drug users, misunderstanding of HIV/AIDS transmission among communities and most at risk groups, interpretation HIV/AIDS positive as criminals based on the current laws, misuse of the financial aids , weak national coordination in fighting this disease and lack of professionals and expertise nationwide are the main challenges against fighting HIV/AIDS in Afghanistan।

World Health Organization (WHO) and UNAIDS 2007 reports shows that around 33 million of people are living with HIV/AIDS all over the world। In which 30.8 million are adults, 15.5 are women and 2 millions of such are children under the age of 15.

I am afraid if I write anything about condom and it is use here, I might be prosecuted or asked by Mullahs to explain them why to use condom or does it really safe the sex or promotes it?.
It is another concern of our community and a big challenge for Health ministry that has not been able to convince these powerful religious leaders and Mullahs to support them fighting these desease.And finally will they approach Taliban ruled areas or not? Let keep this in mind that AIDS breaks the borders and will immediately spread all over the country if we don’t stop it.

World AIDS Day began in 1988 when health ministers from around the world met and agreed on the concept of the day as an opportunity for all of us to come together to demonstrate the importance of AIDS and show solidarity for the cause. In 2008, this underlining principle of solidarity and awareness remains the same.

We have only two years to go for “the goal of universal access to comprehensive prevention programmes, treatment, care and support by 2010”[2006 Political Declaration on AIDS].To achieve this goal, leadership and action is needed now. Governments must deliver on the promises they have made. Communities must encourage leadership of its members. Individuals must feel empowered to access treatment, to know their rights and take action against stigma and discrimination, and to know and use methods of prevention against receiving and transmitting HIV.

World AIDS Day was first declared by the World Health Organization and the United Nations General Assembly (Resolution 43/15) in 1988. Since then, it has progressively become one of the most successful “international days” for raising awareness on a global issue.

Past Themes:

1988 – Communication
1989 – Youth
1990 – Women and AIDS
1991 – Sharing the Challenge
1992 – Community Commitment
1993 – Act
1994 – AIDS and the Family
1995 – Shared Rights, Shared Responsibilities
1996 – One World, One Hope
1997 – Children Living in a World with AIDS
1998 – Force for Change: World AIDS Campaign with Young People
1999 – Listen, Learn, Live: World AIDS Campaign with Children and Young People
2000 – AIDS: Men make a difference
2001 – I care. Do you?
2002 – Stigma and Discrimination
2003 – Stigma and Discrimination
2004 – Women, Girls, and HIV and AIDS
2005 – Stop AIDS. Keep the Promise
2006 – Accountability – Stop AIDS. Keep the Promise
2007 – Leadership – Stop AIDS. Keep the Promise
2008 – Leadership – Stop AIDS. Keep the Promise