As countries across the globe mark World AIDS Day, calls have been raised in Jordan for increased awareness although the country is one of the lowest AIDS-infected countries in the world.
The theme of this year's World AIDS Day is "Communities make the difference", which health experts said highlights the key role by societies to combat the disease and prevent its occurrence.
In Jordan, around 260 Jordanians are currently diagnosed with AIDS and no new cases have been discovered, according to Hadeel Ashaari, director of the Ministry of Health’s communicable diseases department.
According to a survey by the ministry, Jordan is among the countries with the lowest AIDS rates in the world and those who contact the disease mostly do so through sexual intercourse and not through infected needles or other publicly-shared items.
UNAIDS, which is leading the global effort to end AIDS as a public health threat by 2030 as part of the Sustainable Development Goals, indicated that since the first cases of HIV were reported more than 35 years ago, 78 million people have become infected with HIV and 35 million have died from AIDS-related illnesses.
- More awareness
"It is all about more awareness. Talking about this disease is kind of a taboo that no one would like to address and look into, but there is a need for more awareness about how to avoid this type of fatal disease," Mohammad Adli, a doctor at a public hospital in Amman, told 7Dnews.
"Many people who suffer from the disease do not report it and do not even tell their relatives and closed family members…societies have a role to play in awareness about this issue as there are many ways through which people could be infected with AIDS including taking narcotics with injections," Adli added.
-Communities are cornerstone
In a message on the occasion, UNAIDS Executive Director Winnie Byanyima said: "Communities are the best hope for ending AIDS because communities have fought against HIV right from the beginning."
"Without communities, 24 million people would not be on treatment today. Without communities led by women living with and affected by HIV, we would not be close to ending new HIV infections among children, raising orphans and caring for the sick," Byanyima said.
-Treatment offered for free
According to Ahmad Serhan, a physician at the Health Ministry and a member of the Jordan Medical Association, around 230 Jordanians are currently receiving free treatment at various medical centres.
"Jordanians are treated for free from this disease…Any foreigners who test positive with the disease are deported…The treatment of this disease is very costly and I believe that more awareness about how to avoid being infected is highly needed," said Serhan.