In the last six months, Ministry of Health (MoH) has detected 34 new HIV cases (15 males and 19 females). The majority of them are between the age of 25 to 49 years old while 3 percent are between 15 to 24 years of age, and 26 percent above 50 years. However, there is one Mother to Child Transmission (MTCT).
The patient profile in the newly detected cases has listed 13 of them as farmers, 8 housewives, 1 each are from the private business, civil service, corporation, driver, unemployed and minor categories. In terms of mode of transmission, 33 of them have acquired the infection through unprotected heterosexual sex and 1 case happened from MTCT.
The medical screening remains as the highest mode of case diagnosis with 38 percent followed by voluntary, 32 percent by counseling testing, 6 percent by contact tracing and 9 percent through antenatal check (ANC) while 3 percent through blood donor screening. Currently, all the new cases are being put on care and treatment at the JDWNRH. Total of 60 HIV cases have been diagnosed in 2019 alone.
“One of the biggest challenges in responding towards the prevention and control of HIV is that people do not come forward for testing despite making HIV testing services available in all the health centers. If diagnosed, you will have a better chance of living a long and healthy life through quality treatment,” said Lyonpo Dechen Wangmo,
Although there is a sign of stabilization of HIV epidemic in Bhutan with an average case detection of 55 cases for six years resulting into the case detection gap of 45 percent as of June 2020. This shows that only 55 percent of the estimated 1,300 people living with HIV in Bhutan know their HIV status and the remaining 579 PLHIV are still unaware of their HIV status.
The total cumulative cases reported from 1993 until June 2020 stands at 721 (374 males and 347 females). Like many other countries in the region, the majority (70 percent) of the reported HIV cases in Bhutan fall between the age group of 25 to 49 years old, while 15 percent are between 15 to 24 years of age, and the remaining 6 percent fall below 15 years of age, and then 10 percent above 50 years. It shows that HIV in Bhutan has primarily affected the most economically productive age group.