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Indonesian activists protest lack of access to Aids drugs

Publication Date : 04-01-2013

 

Aids activists have criticised the uneven distribution of antiretroviral treatment (Art) in the country, saying that it is only available in accessible areas.

The Indonesian Network for HIV Infected People (Jothi) national board chairman Heru Widarsah said Thursday the government-sponsored HIV treatment remained out of reach to some communities.

“Access to antiretroviral treatment is improving, but coverage remains focused on areas with high HIV infection rates such as East Java, Jakarta, Papua and West Java,” he told The Jakarta Post.

The treatment remains hard to come by in provinces not noted for high incidence of HIV/Aids.

As of 2010, 435 people in Jambi had tested positive for HIV/Aids, almost double the figure for 2008, but only three regencies and municipalities in the province have Art provision.

It is substantially more difficult for HIV patients in remote rural areas to get treatment.

“It often takes hours for a patient to get to Art clinics. These people must take antiretroviral pills every 12 hours. As a result, many patients stop taking the medication, which triggers a relapse,” said Heru.

The number of people with HIV/AIDS who receive Art stood at 80 per cent in the third quarter of 2012, up from 77 per cent the previous year, according to the Health
Ministry.

“This shows we’re improving our handling of the disease,” the ministry’s Tjandra Yoga Aditama said on Thursday.

In the third quarter of 2012, over 215,000 people aged 15 years and above received HIV counselling and testing, up from only 67,000 the previous year.

Meanwhile, 78 per cent of regencies and municipalities in the country had properly implemented HIV prevention programmes by the third quarter of 2012, up from 63 per cent last year.

National Aids Commission chairman Kemal N Siregar said that to carry out HIV prevention programmes effectively, uninterrupted access to antiretroviral treatment was imperative.

“We should focus on HIV testing and counselling as the backbone of the HIV prevention strategy,” he said.

The HIV epidemic in Indonesia is in decline, the ministry claimed in an earlier report.

In 2011, 21,000 people throughout the country were infected with HIV and 825 died of the infection, slightly fewer than the figures from the previous year when 21,600 people were diagnosed and 1,185 died.

As of September 2012, the number of HIV-infected people has further declined to 15,372 with 514 deaths.

Despite the decline, infections found in specific groups continue to grow. In 2011, 12.4 per cent of males who have sex with males were infected with HIV, up from 5.3 per cent in 2007, the ministry’s 2011 Integrated and Biological Behaviour Survey report shows.

The report also reveals that 0.7 per cent of males with high risk sexual behaviour were infected with HIV in 2011, up seven fold from 0.1 per cent in 2007.

 

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