Paulina Quintao – The National Director for Public Health at the Ministry of Health (MoH), Pedro Canisio said from January to May 2019, health professionals have detected 58 new positive cases for the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) through laboratory testing.
He said according to data, from 2003 to May 2019, 931 people were identified HIV positive, and from this number, 435 people are on antiretroviral treatment, 118 people died, while 378 people did not continue the treatment.
He said most number of HIV cases were detected in the municipalities of Dili, Maliana, Covalima and Baucau.
"We used to provide education and health promotion to target groups, but now we changed the strategy by organizing campaigns to the community in general," he said during an External Review Meeting of the HIV program implementation 2018-2019 held recently in Dili.
He added that according to past strategy, health professionals provided counseling first and asked them to do the test, but now they do the test first and depending on the result, provide counseling.
He said that, another move is to do HIV testing on every pregnant woman who is being treated at a health facilities and on those who donate blood, to identify and dispense treatment to prevent the transmission of the HIV virus to other people.
Meanwhile, Global Fund Administrator in Timor-Leste, Dr. Telma de Oliveira said the number of HIV cases has increased, and this demonstrates progress in the health education and promotion program efforts, because more people know about their status and are undertaking treatment.
"People have more knowledge about the disease, and they trust their health professional for testing and treatment," she said.
She added that, the main thing is to continue strengthening education and awareness, to increase the testing and treatment coverage, to prevent HIV virus transmission to other people.