Health Protection Agency to hold AIDS walk

The Maldives Health Protection Agency will organise a walk around the capital Malé in order to raise awareness for World AIDS Day.

The walk will begin at 4pm tomorrow (December 1) from the Youth Center in Maafanu and will conclude in Jumhooree Maidhan, with participants requested to wear red.

The Maldivian Medical Association has also said it will be holding a public awareness event to mark the day. The sessions in IGMH’s OPD area will be themed ‘Get tested and be sure’.

Globally, over 35 million people are living with HIV/AIDS. Since the first case of HIV was detected in the Maldives in 1991, 19 cases have been reported, though the health ministry estimates numbers of HIV positive persons could be between 70 and 100.

Lack of prevention programmes and specialised care for population groups at risk could facilitate an HIV outbreak in the Maldives, officials from National HIV AIDS programme have said. Sex workers, gay men and intravenous drug users are particularly at risk, he said.

“We are sitting on a time bomb. We know those key populations exist [in Maldives],” Programme Manager Abdul Hameed has said previously. “At any time it can explode.”

In February this year, the Indhira Gandhi Memorial Hospital (IGMH) transfused a pregnant women with HIV positive blood due to a technical error.