Nov 11, Colombo: Director of Sri Lanka's HIV/AIDS Prevention Programme Dr. Nimal Edirisinghe warns that the disease may become an epidemic although at present Sri Lanka is classified as a country with a low prevalence of HIV infection.
Dr. Edirisinghe has pointed out that 134 HIV positive cases have been reported up to the third quarter of this year. Five of them were infants who were infected through their mothers.
Health authorities have so far diagnosed 56 children that were HIV positive.
According to the National STD/AIDS Control Programme statistics, since 1987 there have been 1,597 reported HIV positive cases in Sri Lanka and 8.4% of those have been reported this year alone. In 2011, a total of 146 cases have been reported while there were 121 cases in 2010, 136 cases in 2009, and 102 cases in 2008.
However, authorities believe the actual number of HIV positive people may be as high as 4,200. Many of the patients do not report to government hospitals and clinics due to social stigma.
According to the statistics until last year, the HIV/AIDS was mainly transmitted through heterosexual mode, accounting for 82.5% of total cases and in 11.3% of cases by homosexual and bisexual relations. A mother to child transmission has occurred in 5.3% of the cases.
Dr. Edirisinghe says that AIDS prevention programs haven't been successful in many parts of the island except Sabaragamuwa Province.