HIV Mostly Spread by Straight Sex, Says Official

DENPASAR

More than three quarters of recorded cases of AIDS and HIV in Bali are attributable to heterosexual sex, according to Health Department officials, with most sufferers being between the ages of 20 and 39.

Department chief Dr Nyoman Suteja told reporters last weekend that there were now 4314 registered AIDS and HIV patients in Bali, and that cases had been recorded in every regency, and in Denpasar.

Suteja said it was significant that according to patient testimony 72.4 percent of sufferers had contracted the virus through heterosexual sex and were not members of the groups traditionally considered as being at highest risk from HIV.

“Sharing of syringes by drug users accounts for 17.8 percent of cases, homosexual activity for 5.73 percent; prenatal transmission (from an HIV-positive mother to her unborn baby) accounts for 2.41 percent; and 2.02 percent of patients don’t know how they contracted the disease,” he said.

Suteja said 79.88 percent of sufferers in Bali were between the ages of 20 and 39, adding that significantly more men than women were recorded as having HIV-AIDS.

The provincial government is working to stop the spread of the disease, with public health awareness programs, and a 2006 local regulation to promote the use of condoms, but Suteja said that all sectors of society needed to cooperate in tackling the issue.

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