Hamad Medical Corporation’s (HMC) Communicable Disease Center (CDC) is marking World Aids Day 2018 by urging people to ‘know their status’ and get tested for the virus and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

World Aids Day is marked annually on December 1 and this week HMC is holding a range of educational events across the organisation, as well as in the community, to raise awareness about the HIV infection, its prevention, and how to get tested.

Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection and acquired immune deficiency syndrome (Aids) is a spectrum of conditions caused by infection with the HIV.

HMC’s head of Infectious Diseases and Aids Programme manager, Dr Abdullatif al-Khal, said, “We have seen an increase in the number of new infections this year and this is mainly among young people. Each year in Qatar between 15 and 25 new HIV cases are diagnosed. This means we need to enhance our efforts to educate the community about risks, how the virus is transmitted, and how they can be tested. The earlier HIV is diagnosed, the better the outcome of the treatment. Through education and awareness we can help end the epidemic.”

“HIV is spread mainly through physical contact during intercourse or by sharing injection needles with someone who has HIV. It can also be transmitted from a mother to her child during pregnancy and childbirth; therefore every pregnant woman should be tested for HIV during the early stages of her pregnancy because treatment of the mother will prevent transmission of the virus to her baby,” added Dr al-Khal.

Dr al-Khal says Qatar has put in place a National Aids Programme through the Ministry of Public Health that is focused on raising awareness of the virus as well as providing comprehensive care to affected individuals living in the country.

“Under the national programme, anyone living in Qatar who is diagnosed with HIV is given appropriate counselling and the most advanced treatment available. They are also assured of confidentiality and support. People who are receiving treatment are very unlikely to transmit the virus. In addition, those who are at risk of HIV infection can protect themselves by taking preventive treatment which is available at the Communicable Disease Center,” added Dr al-Khal.

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