ID :
Tue, 06/24/2008 - 11:31
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By Andi Abdussalam
Jakarta, June 24 (ANTARA) - Indonesia is one of the countries where the number of HIV cases is growing fast while the figure for Asia is actually declining.

According to National AIDS Commission (KPA) Secretary Dr Nafsiah Mboi, up to March 2008, the number of HIV/AIDS cases in Indonesia has been recorded at 17,998. About 10 percent of the patients are HIV carriers while the remaining 90 percent are patients on the verge of developing full-blown AIDS.

The KPA's figures are on detected carriers and based on medical reports on people who underwent medical examinations. The real number of HIV/AIDS carriers in Indonesia is believed to be far higher.

The number of HIV/AIDS cases in Indonesia has continued to increase while it is estimated the disease will infect 400,000 and kill 100,000 people in 2010, Coordinating Minister for People's Welfare Aburizal Bakrie said last week.

"Without adequate intervention, the virus will by 2015 have infected one million people, killed 350,000 and infected 38,500 children," he said.

There is even a prediction that HIV/AIDS cases in Indonesia have reached 500,000. Sociologist Dr Boyke Dian Nugraha said in Pangkalpinang, Sumatra, last week, that he had data which showed that in 2008 the number of HIV/AIDS had reached 500,000.

"The 500,000 HIV/AIDS carriers in Indonesia exceed the number of HIV/AIDS patients in other neighboring countries such as Thailand," Dr. Boyke Dian Nugraha said over the weekend.

The fast increasing number of HIV/AIDS cases in Indonesia has led the world to plan an international AIDS congress in the country. The Indonesian tourist resort island of Bali is scheduled to host the 9th International Congress on AIDS in Asia and the Pacific (ICAAP) on August 9-13, 2009.

"The congress will take place under the auspices of the AIDS Society of Asia and the Pacific. About 500 delegates from 50 countries are expected to take part in the congress," chairman of the meeting's organizing committee Prof. Zubairi Djoerban said.

To be themed: "Empowering the People, Reinforcing Networks," the congress is expected to formulate efforts to eradicate the HIV epidemic with the establishment of a networking cooperation.

"We hope participants from Asia and the Pacific will share experience, particularly those who are policy makers," Djoerban said.

Fighting the HIV epidemic is an important item on the agenda of health development in Indonesia, in addition to reducing the maternal mortality rate, combating infectious diseases, and other health problems arising as a consequence of a higher life expectancy and an increase in the number of elderly citizens.

As part of its efforts to halt the spread of HIV/AIDS, the Indonesian government has launched a national Action Plan to fight the disease in the 2007-2010 period.

According to Minister Aburizal Bakrie, there are three important elements in the action plan, namely programs to reach groups susceptible to HIV/AIDS infection, especially intravenous drug users (IDUs), sex workers and their clients.

The second element is preventive programs, namely efforts to prevent HIV infection through injections and high-risk sexual activity.

The third one is comprehensive preventive programs including promotion of healthy life styles, counseling, voluntary HIV counseling and testing (VCT), prevention of transmission through sexual intercourse, harm reduction programs, care, support and treatment (CST) programs, universal prevention, prevention of mother-to-infant transmission, and safe blood transfusions.

"These comprehensive programs are top priorities in 19 provinces, including two provinces in Papua needing special handling as 80 percent of their populations are susceptible to HIV infection," he said.

The minister admitted funding was still a major challenge being faced in efforts to fight HIV/AIDS in Indonesia with the government providing only 30 percent of the needed funds.

In an effort to fight infectious diseases in Indonesia, there has been a global fund program. Germany is the first country to implement the program for Indonesia.

So far, the Australian government has also expressed interest in joining a health-for-debt swap program called "Debt2Health" with Indonesia, according to the chairman of the Innovative Financing Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TBC and Malaria, Robert Filipp here on Monday.

Australia's wish to provide funds for the program in Indonesia was expressed by the new Australian government during the last general elections, he said. "Therefore, GF (Global Fund) is conducting negotiations and at the same time reminding the Australian government about its political pledge," he said.

"So far, the Global Fund has invested almost US$200 million in Indonesia for medical treatment, handling, prevention and improvement of health program systems," Robert Filipp said.

The Debt2Health program aims to free up domestic resources through debt relief to invest in urgent public health needs in the fight against AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria.