Approximately 7,200 people in Afghanistan are estimated to be HIV positive, according to numbers by the World Health Organization (WHO), published on Sunday to mark World AIDS Day.
The WHO called for a broader public awareness campaign in Afghanistan to deal with the issue.
But the Afghan Ministry of Public Health said that it registered only 2,883 cases of HIV in the country.
“According to our statistics, there are 2,883 cases of HIV registered in the country. The 7,200 cases reported by the World Health Organization are only an estimate,” said Fida Mohammad Paikan, deputy minister of public health.
Referring to factors behind the spread of the virus, Paikan said: “Last year the Ministry of Public Health registered 183 cases of HIV, and the figure has decreased to 150 new cases this year. But we need to undertake a comprehensive study to determine the exact number of those suffering from the disease.”
Victims complain of social discrimination:
Mohammad Idris, who contracted the disease from an infected needle during a drug injection, said:
“We are facing a lot of problems because we cannot share about our illness with others,” said Idris.
Omar, who is also infected by HIV, said: “If we go to hospitals and tell them that we have HIV Aids, they don’t treat us.”
According to global health institutions, the number of people newly infected with HIV each year has decreased 40% since 1998. Nearly 3 million people were newly infected in 1998. In 2018, new infections stood at 1.7 million, which corresponds to around 5,000 per day. Roughly 61% of these new infections were in Sub-Saharan Africa.
The number of people living with HIV worldwide has risen steadily from 7.9 million in 1990, to 37.9 million today. However, thanks to increased HIV treatment coverage, deaths have decreased from 1.7 million in 2005, to 770,000 in 2018. About 23 million people (61% of people living with HIV) accessed HIV treatment in 2018, according to the World Health Organization.