HPA: 22 active cases of AIDS in Maldives

Health Protection Agency (HPA) on Thursday revealed statistics related to AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome), showing that there are currently 22 positive cases of HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) in Maldives.

The agency shared these statistics on the occasion of World AIDS Day, marked annually on December 1, in order to create awareness about the spread of HIV, and mourn the lives lost to the disease.  

HIV was first detected in Maldives in 1991, and the numbers shared by HPA show that 39 cases have been recorded since then, till December 31, 2021.

This includes six women and 33 men. So far, 15 people have lost their lives to AIDS in Maldives.

Furthermore, HPA noted that there are currently 22 individuals getting treatment for AIDS.

HIV is a sexually transmitted infection, but you can get infected in several other ways as well. This includes coming into contact with infected blood, sharing needles or illicit drug injection usage, and transferring from a mother who has the virus to her baby during pregnancy, childbirth or breastfeeding.  

HIV could inhibit in your body over a number of years before it shows any signs of its presence. Without proper medication, over the years, the virus attacks your immune system, and weakens it, making the body vulnerable to other infections.

While to date there is no direct cure for the disease, medications can be taken to control the infection and further progression of the virus in the body.

Symptoms of HIV vary, depending on the stage of the infection. In the clinical latent infection stage, some may not experience any symptoms at all. Moreover, this stage may last for years if taking regular antiretroviral therapy (ART).

In 2004, ART was introduced in Maldives and the treatment is available for free under the National AIDS Programme

In the Symptomatic state, the virus continues destroying your immune cells, and this leads to developing mild infections with symptoms such as fever, fatigue, and swollen lymph nodes — often one of the first signs of HIV infection, diarrhoea, weight loss and Pneumonia among others.

Finally, the diseases progress to AIDS, by then the immune system has been severely compromised, and smaller infections that normally would not affect a healthy person become harmful.

Should there be any worry of being infected with HIV or being at risk of contracting it, a healthcare professional should be consulted at the very earliest, and testing should be done subsequently.

This year in Maldives World AIDS Day will be officially celebrated from December 5 to 12.

Across Maldives, testing will be available in all the hospitals, stated HPA.

Additionally, the agency noted that if the test comes positive, further tests will be conducted via IGMH and the National AIDS Programme.

The National AIDS Programme under HPA is mandated with planning and implementing various awareness and prevention programmes for Maldives. They are also responsible for facilitating the treatment of those diagnosed with HIV.