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Posted On: 1 December 2008 07:54 am
Updated On: 12 November 2020 02:09 pm

Qatar has low rate of Aids cases: Report

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Despite an alarming increase of cases of Human Immunodeficiency Virus/ Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (HIV/AIDS) in the Arab world, Qatar has still a relatively low incidence with 235 cases, according to a report released yesterday by the Qatar National Committee for AIDS Prevention. Dr Abddul Latif Al Khal, media spokesman of Qatar National Committee for AIDS Prevention, has issued this HIV cases update in Qatar as the international community celebrates today the World AIDS Day. A report by the United Nations Development Programme last year, however, disclosed HIV/AIDS cases have increased by 300 percent in the Arab world over the past three years. Ali Salman Saleh, UNDP analyst and HIV/AIDS programme coordinator, said such rising cases is against an annual rate of increase of 20 percent in the United States, Japan and Europe. Al Khal in a statement said the minimal cases of HIV in the country could be attributed to the capability-building efforts of the National Committee for AIDS Prevention which implemented an expanded strategy targeting AIDS control together with drawing up policies and programmes in assisting patients inflicted with this dreaded disease. “We emphasise that the State of Qatar is committed for the prevention on the spread of HIV/AIDS in the country even as this year’s celebration comes a critical time as there are only two years left from the target date of providing the necessary preventive care, cure and support programmes all over the world”, the statement noted. Al Khal, however, said they are looking ahead and think about how to deal early with the AIDS problem in the future after realising that most countries which suffer the most from such dreaded disease are those which reacted too late. According to studies, more than 22 million people already died with AIDS while there are more than 42 million who have already contracted the deadly syndrome. Al Khal warned: “Even if we succeed to discover a vaccine for AIDS, there are still 40 million who will die of it before they can be rescued”. In the Arab world, the UNDP report noted, the staggering rate of increase is mainly due to factors of ignorance, lack of awareness, denial, and misinterpretation of facts. An estimated 100 to 300 undetected cases are also believed to exist in Qatar, based on World Health Organisation indicators which say that every country has roughly as many undetected as detected cases due to lack of symptoms in early-stage infections. Already, the National Committee for AIDS Prevention will soon introduce voluntary testing and counselling for a person infected with HIV with an assurance a victim’s identity will remain anonymous. The programme, introduced early this year during the Second Workshop for Religious Leaders and Imams, will offer treatment and counselling to those tested positive with the dreaded disease while assuring them their case will not be reported to the authorities. Officials believed this approach would set as a model for the Gulf region since HIV/AIDS victims can better cope with the situation and accept such predicament.