HIV, AIDS prevention suffers setback

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The prevention and control work carried out by the National Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STD)/ HIV AIDS Control Programme for the past 20 years is in danger of being wasted with the current shortage of kits to carry out laboratory testing, College of Medical Laboratory Scientists Sri Lanka (CMLSSL) cautioned. 

President CMLSSL, Ravi Kumudesh said yesterday (12), the current economic crisis in the country which has impacted the State health service has resulted in the shortage. Annually 450,000 tests were performed for control and prevention of STD/HIV AIDS. Also there was an amount that the health service received free of cost from non-government organisations (NGOs). 

Although the public were under the impression that HIV tests were performed only on suspected patients, these tests were also carried out on pregnant women, during blood transfusion, organ transplant surgery etc while being carried out on patients. But under the present circumstances, these tests could be carried only on a selected number. Currently surveillance for STD HIV AIDS has dropped by 50 per cent while the NSTD/HIV AIDS CP has instructed the HIV AIDS tests carried out on pregnant women which was usually performed during the first trimester be pushed back to the second trimester. Sri Lanka is one of the countries which has won recognition from the WHO for preventing the mother to child transmission of HIV AIDS, he said.  

The NSTD/AIDSCP which has been able to control and prevent the spread  STD’s like gonorrhea syphilis and HIV/AIDS   for the past several years would see a severe setback if urgent action was not taken to procure the required testing kits within next few months, he warned. 

The STD/HIV AIDS CP said testing kits for HIV were available at present, there was a shortage of those required for testing STDs like gonorrhea. Stressing on the importance of testing, he said patients were not even aware that they had the disease. “Which is why this situation posed a serious threat of a possible spread of STDs and HIV/AIDs,” a spokesperson for the NSTD/HIV AIDSCP lamented.

By Dilanthi Jayamanne