|A mother gets consultation service on HIV/AIDS prevention in the northern mountainous Son La Province. A lack of knowledge about HIV/AIDS is one of the biggest causes of cases in the province. — Photo tiengchuong.vn
SON LA (VNS) — A lack of knowledge about HIV/AIDS is one of the biggest causes of cases in the northern mountainous province of Son La.
A 33-year-old local woman, who asked to keep her name anonymous, did not know what HIV/AIDS was and what happened to her husband when he died of the fatal disease eight years ago. She also did not think she needed to have her health checked until she suffered from continuous sickness and blurry vision.
Not until she went to a clinic and got advice from doctors did she know about transmission risks and basic knowledge on HIV/AIDS.
A situation like this is not uncommon in Son La. Many residents have been "victims" of HIV/AIDS in unexpected cases.
Tong Van Su, deputy head of Infection Department of General Hospital of Muong La District said that among the ten HIV infected children under treatment at the hospital, there is a child who tested positive for HIV after sucking breast milk of the aunt when the mother was away.
Even the child's aunt did not know she was living with HIV.
HIV/AIDS now not only focuses in the province's urban areas but tends to spread to mountainous areas where travelling by vehicles is difficult and the information level remains low. Meanwhile, drug smuggling and abusing were popular, especially in border areas, said Son La's HIV/AIDS Prevention Centre Director Dam Van Huong.
About 10,500 HIV/AIDS carriers have been reported in the province so far, according to the provincial HIV/AIDS control and prevention centre.
In the first ten months of this year, the province diagnosed 405 HIV infected cases. Up to 525 cases have developed full-blown AIDS and 110 people have died of AIDS. The majority of HIV infected cases belong to patients aged 20 to 39.
Cases with women and children are reportedly on the increase. It is estimated that in 2020, the number of females infected will make up 55 per cent of the total while the figure on children is predicted to reach roughly 11 per cent.
Huong said that facing these statistics, the province was striving to eradicate the epidemic. However, HIV/AIDS fighting and prevention in the province had faced many difficulties, he said, adding that many infected cases were diagnosed too late, which is one of the reasons for the rapid spread of the disease.
A shortage of employees to monitor patients had also limited efforts to prevent HIV/AIDS, he said.
Many infected children living in remote mountain areas have faced great difficulties in accessing health care services, which pose challenges to predicting infected cases as well as treatment and caring of anti-retroviral (ARV) therapy.
The governmental health programme in the province, which encourages the use of methadone therapy to curb drug addicts' reliance on certain drugs through 2020 has been slowly implemented and has faced obstacles.
About 6,000 drug addicts are expected to be under treatment under this programme, however, until now, only about 10 per cent are under treatment. — VNS