HIV increasing in Mideast and North Africa, says report

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The Middle East and North Africa region is one of two areas in the world where the rate of HIV infections is continuing to increase.

In 2012, 347,000 people in the region were living with HIV, a 127 per cent increase over the number living with the disease 11 years before, according to report by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) , according to UAE-based newspaper Gulf News.

While testing and treatment service for HIV are available in the region, a lack of awareness of the disease, as well as a fear of social discrimination often stops people from getting diagnosed.

Consequentially, around 80 percent of people living with HIV in the region are unaware they are carriers of the disease.

Ala Alwan, the WHO’s regional director for the eastern Mediterranean, said that treatment was fundamental for eradicating the disease.

“Treatment is fundamental to achieving an Aids-free generation, in addition to reducing morbidity and mortality, HIV treatment also reduces transmission. We cannot let this opportunity remain untapped. We must do more to garner both the individual and the public health benefits of treatment,” he said, according to the newspaper.

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