HMC observes World Aids Day in support of people living with HIV
Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) observed the World AIDS Day in demonstration of its support for people living with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) that causes acquired immune-deficiency syndrome (AIDS).
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), HIV continues to be a major global public health problem, having claimed more than 34 million lives since the start of the epidemic. According to WHO, 1.2 million people died in 2014 from HIV-related causes globally.
HMC’s Head of Infectious Diseases and AIDS Program Manager, Dr. Abdullatif Al Khal, said HIV spreads mainly through physical contact during intercourse or by sharing injection needles with someone who has HIV. “Certain body secretions and breast milk from HIV-infected persons can transmit the virus. These secretions must come in contact with mucous membranes (linings found inside the male and female genital tracts and the mouth), damaged tissue, or be directly injected into the bloodstream (from a needle or syringe) for transmission to possibly occur.”
1.2 million people died in 2014 from HIV-related causes globally
He said despite Qatar having a multi-ethnic and diverse population, HIV incidence in the country has remained relatively low partly due to its National AIDS Program which implements early surveillance and treatment strategies. He explained that under the program anyone living in Qatar and diagnosed with HIV infection is given the appropriate counselling and the most advanced treatment available. “Once a person is diagnosed with HIV, he/she will be provided with a holistic care to ensure their immunity is preserved and that their condition does not deteriorate into AIDS thus avoiding opportunistic infections and other complications,” explained Dr. Al Khal adding that all persons with HIV are treated equally and their confidentiality is respected.
He noted that HIV infection is often diagnosed through rapid diagnostic tests (RDTs), which detect the presence or absence of HIV antibodies. “Most often these tests provide same day test results; essential for same day diagnosis and early treatment and care. These tests are readily available in the private and public sectors and all persons who think that they were exposed to the infection are encouraged to go for testing since early treatment can prevent deterioration in the immune system.
Dr. Al Khal reiterated that there is no cure for HIV infection. However, effective treatment with antiretroviral (ARV) drugs can control the virus so that people with HIV can enjoy healthy and productive lives, and can potentially live their full lives he added.