AIDS on the rise among Ethiopian women - prevalence rate 5 per cent
Jun 1, 2006, 12:24 GMT
Addis Ababa - A senior Ethiopian health official said Thursday that there has been a marked increase in HIV/AIDS infection among women in the country, with the prevalence rate among sexually active women now standing at 5 per cent.
'Women are vulnerable to the AIDS pandemic due to their low socio- economic status in Ethiopia, on top of their biological factors,' Health Minister Dr Kebede Worku said.
'The national surveillance report estimates the HIV prevalence among women in the country to be 5 per cent,' he said, speaking at the annual conference of the Ethiopian Medical Association.
The senior health official stated that this was higher than the current prevalence rate of AIDS infection at the national level in Ethiopia, estimated at 4.4 percent.
'The 5-per-cent AIDS prevalence among women is bad news, since it shows that there is still a lot that needs to be done in preventing the spread of the disease among women,' he said.
'This is a wake-up call to the government and others working to curtail the spread of HIV/AIDS,' he added.
Kebede said that the government launched a free anti-retroviral treatment service in January 2005 to minimize the spread of the virus and to strengthen the prevention and control of the pandemic.
He disclosed that about 35,000 people were beneficiaries of ART services in the country in the 15 months since it was launched. The beneficiaries have been 46 per cent women and 4 per cent children, he added.
Government statistics put at close to 1.6 million the number of people living with AIDS in Ethiopia, but local and international non- governmental organizations give a estimate of about 3 million, making the Ethiopian population, on the basis of both figures, one of the largest HIV-infected in the world.© 2006 dpa - Deutsche Presse-Agentur