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HIV cases in Indonesia rising sharply

13th December 2012 | 2.210 Views
HIV cases in Indonesia rising sharply
(FOTO Antara-news/ferly)
Jakarta (ANTARA News) - Within a period of five years, the cumulative number of reported HIV infections in Indonesia has risen sharply -from 7,195 in 2006 to 76,879 in 2011, according to a National AIDS Commission (NAC) report.

According to the 2009 national estimates of HIV infection, about 186,257 people were infected with HIV and 6.4 million people were at risk.

When presiding over a ceremony to mark the World Health Day in Jakarta on December 11, Indonesian Vice President Boediono noted that the first case of HIV/AIDS in Indonesia was reported in 1987 and since then the number of HIV/AIDS cases had been on the rise.

Up to June this year, 118,865 HIV/AIDS cases were reported, comprising 86,762 HIV cases and 32,103 AIDS cases.

Suggesting that the official figures of HIV/AIDS cases were "only the tip of the iceberg", Boediono said the actual figures must be much higher.

"Statistically, for every woman with HIV/AIDS, there are 2.41 men suffering from the dreaded disease," he added.

Five percent of Indonesia's total population of almost 245 million are at the risk of contracting HIV/AIDS. People at risk include commercial sex workers, users of injection drugs and homosexuals.

The main modes of transmission of HIV infection in Indonesia are unprotected sex, particularly among people with many partners, and unsafe practices among injecting drug users.

The theme for this year`s World AIDS Day is "Protect Women and Children from HIV/AIDS".

Last year, it was estimated that 8,170 pregnant women were HIV positive in Indonesia. According to the Health Ministry`s data, the transmission of HIV from mother to child accounted for 5.1 percent of the total number of HIV cases reported in the country.

"Women and children are the focus of this year`s HIV/AIDS campaigns. Importance should be given to women and children because they are more vulnerable than men," Women's Empowerment and Child Protection Minister Linda Gumelar said.

"Many women are not aware that these diseases affect babies in their wombs," she noted.

Linda stated that the government and the public must work together to ensure that the women in the country have access to proper healthcare facilities.

"Clinics and hospitals should create awareness of HIV/HIDS, and they should take care of the treatment part too. Children and women in the country have the right to know about sexual and reproductive health," she added.

So far, the country has heavily relied on foreign aid for the implementation of HIV/AIDS programmes.

Several international development partners have provided Indonesia with financial and technical support in its efforts to tackle HIV/AIDS.

The Indonesian Partnership Fund (IPF) helped the country get multi-year grants from the Global Fund for the 2009-15 period.

Among the countries financially supporting HIV/AIDS programs in Indonesian are the United Kingdom, Australia, the United States and the Netherlands.

The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in Jakarta reported that in July 2012 the Secretary of the National AIDS Commission (NAC), Dr. Kemal Siregar, officially accepted the handover of the IPF funds` management from El-Mostafa Benlamlih, the UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative.

From 2005 until mid-2012, the UNDP managed a total of US$56.1 million in funds, including US$51.7 million from the UK government, US$3.4 million from the Australian government, and US$1 million from the US government, for the implementation of HIV/AIDS programs in Indonesia.

Coordinating Minister for People`s Welfare Agung Laksono stated that foreign aid accounted for some 70 percent of the government`s budget for HIV/AIDs treatment and prevention programs.

"About 70 percent of the budget for HIV/AIDS treatment comes from foreign assistance," he said during the World AIDS Day event.

"However, Indonesia should be able to fund its HIV/AIDS treatment services without any outside help, if we want to ensure the sustainability of such programs," Agung stated.

"Funds should come not only from the central government but also from regional administrations, as well as from other parties such as private companies and industries," the minister added.

The vice president on the occasion also urged firms in the country to support HIV/AIDS programmes by investing in Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) activities.

"The private sector, through the Indonesia Business Coalition for AIDS, has mounted a response to HIV/AIDS in the form of public-private partnerships for the prevention of sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV amongst Indonesia`s large, mobile, male workforce," the NAC report stated.

"HIV and AIDS are rampant in Indonesia, and we need to join forces to tackle this problem," Boediono pointed out.

"Twelve provinces in Indonesia have been the hardest hit by HIV/AIDS - Jakarta, Papua, West Papua, East Java, West Java, Bali, North Sumatra, Central Java, West Kalimantan, South Sulawesi, Riau and Yogyakarta," he noted.

Boediono urged the local governments of the 12 provinces to step up efforts to tackle the problem by implementing HIV/AIDS programmes more effectively and creating awareness of the disease.

He also urged the authorities of those provinces to allocate more funds to HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment efforts.

"We should not rely on foreign assistance alone," he said.

Indonesia has taken a number of steps - involving prevention, care, support, treatment, and mitigation of social and economic impact - to comprehensively tackle the dreadful disease.

The Social Affairs Ministry, through the Productive Economic Enterprise (UEP) funds, has provided financial assistance to more than 1,000 HIV/AIDS patients. The ministry gave between Rp5 million and Rp7 million to each HIV/AIDS patient. These funds will help HIV/AIDS patients run small-scale businesses.

"The UEP programme has been in existence for the past three years, and over 1,000 HIV/AIDS patients throughout Indonesia have benefitted from the funds," said Sony Manalu, the ministry`s social rehabilitation director, on Wednesday.

"The ministry and several social welfare institutions joined forces to come up with the UEP funds," he added.

The Social Affairs Ministry has also been conducting programmes to mitigate the social impacts of HIV/AIDS by providing social rehabilitation counselling.(*)