What is HIV/AIDS?

The HIV stands for Human Immuno-deficiency Virus and AIDS stands for Acquired Immuno-deficiency Syndromes. So, HIV is a cause virus and AIDS is a state or disorder or complex of symptoms or a state of disease. The HIV/AIDS a virus induced pandemic is one of the most serious health concerns in the world today, because of its high case fatality rate and lack of a curative treatment or vaccine.

How HIV transmits? Studies on the mode of transmission of AIDS have identified sexual intercourse, intravenous injections, blood transfusions and fetal transmission from infected mothers as some of the main routes of transmission of AIDS.

What is the situation of HIV/AIDS in Nepal? AIDS was first identified in Nepal in 1988. Since then, AIDS cases have been steadily increasing; as of October 2001 cumulative HIV/AIDS cases had reached 1,564. This figure is based on the number of people who have tested their blood at the health centers. Because of very limited number of persons have been tested for HIV/AIDS it is likely that this figure could be much higher. For example, according to the UNAIDS and WHO estimates there may be about 34000 HIV positive persons in the kingdom. (UNAIDS, 2001) Despite relatively low numbers of identified AIDS cases in Nepal, experts are concerned about the implied impact of HIV/AIDS in Nepal because of

  • Relatively high illiteracy, which prevents people from taking precautionary measures to avoid getting AIDS.
  • Open border with India, which has the largest number of AIDS cases in the world.
  • Presence of commercial sex workers who are the major source of AIDS transmission in Nepal.
  • Increasing use of intravenous drugs.
  • Seasonal migration of Nepalese to India for seasonal work resulting in a STD and AIDS infection.

What researches about HIV/AIDS suggest? National level data on the Knowledge of AIDS was collected in 1996NFHS and 2001NDHS. These data suggest that among women of reproductive age around 50 percent have heard of AIDS. This figure is nearly double the figure obtained in 1996. Indicating that during a period of 5 years there has been an increase of 25 percentage points in the knowledge of AIDS among ever married women of reproductive age. Information on knowledge of AIDS was collected for males in 2001NDHS only. This survey indicates that nearly 72 percent of ever married males 15-59 have heard of AIDS.

While only 38 percent of women believe that there is a way to avoid AIDS this figure is 67 percent among ever married Nepalese males aged 15-59.

Further queried about the ways of avoiding AIDS common responses among women were

a) Use of condom b) Avoiding multiple sex partners and void sex with persons who have multiple sex partners. Among the males besides these common responses a) avoiding sex with prostitute
Limiting sex partners were common responses.

Since use of condom is one the ways of avoiding getting AIDS women and men were also asked whether they were aware of the source of condom. Nearly 70 percent of women were aware of the source of condoms while only 34 percent said that they could get a condom from that source if they wanted to. This indicates that there is still some taboo in getting condom for women. Among men proportion knowing a source of condom was 84 percent.

Although these figures show some improvement over the years, however, if the spread of HIV/AIDS is to be checked, a multi-pronged IEC campaign needs to be carried out to inform people as well the community as to what it is, how it is transmitted and what precautionary measures can be taken to avoid HIV/AIDS.

Updates: Nepal (Source: NCASC)

Cumulative HIV and AIDS Situation of Nepal
As of Magh 2065 (11 February , 2009)
Condition Male Female Total New Cases in This Month
HIV Positives (Including AIDS) 8812 4451 13263 165
AIDS (Out of total HIV) 1580 649 2229 * 35
Cumulative HIV infection by sub-group and sex
Sub-groups Male Female Total New Cases in This Month
Sex Workers (SW) 3 792 795 6
Clients of SWs/STD 5832 104 5936 68
Housewives 3160 3160 46
Blood or Organ recipients 27 11 38 0
Injecting Drug Use 2350 46 2396 ** 19
Men having Sex with Men (MSM) 74 74 1
Children 473 314 787 25
Sub-group NOT identified 53 24 77 0
Total 8812 4451 13263 165
** Mode of Transmission – IDUs or Sexual
Cumulative HIV infection by age group and sex
Age group (Years) Male Female Total New Cases in This Month
0 – 4 190 112 302 10
5 – 9 216 155 371 12
10 – 14 78 51 129 3
15 – 19 246 252 498 6
20 – 24 1165 785 1950 11
25 – 29 2014 1050 3064 35
30 – 39 3604 1517 5121 62
40 – 49 1049 419 1468 17
50 – above 250 110 360 9
Total 8812 4451 13263 165
* Cumulative death: 515
New death case in Magh 2065 : 3
Morang: Target Population (F.Y. 2063/64)
National Center for AIDS and STD Control

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