6 Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases

Where we are?

hiv aids
2012 Bhutan commemorates World AIDs Day. Photo Sonam Tsoki Tenzin @UNDP Bhutan

Given the low population base, the rising trend of HIV infection is an alarming development. In 2012, a total of 297 cases had been detected. It is estimated that more than 500 people could be infected, though living undetected. The total numbers of HIV cases detected remains small in global comparison and the prevalence is estimated to be below 0.01% of the national population.

There has been an alarming rise with the heterosexual transmission (94%). Mother to child transmissions has also witnessed a significant rise in recent years. The people detected with HIV/AIDS are representative of a wide cross section of Bhutanese society and come from fifteen of the country's twenty districts.  About 88% of all HIV/AIDS cases detected so far fall into the age group between the ages of 20 to 49.

Malaria, once a major public health burden no longer poses a serious threat. Malaria has declined dramatically over the last two decades. The decline in malaria cases have also been accompanied by significant reductions in the mortality from malarial infection with only two deaths in 2007 as compared to 5 in 2004, 15 in 2000 and 63 in 1993. Only 194 cases of malaria were detected in 2012.

Tuberculosis incidence and cases have actually risen from 720 cases per 100,000, in 1990 to 1250 cases per 100,000 in 2012.  Bhutan as such needs to ensure the MDG of halting and reversing the spread of Tuberculosis in the country. With the rising HIV/AIDS prevalence, there is a danger that TB incidences and related fatality may continue to increase as well.

Targets for MDG6
  1. Halt and begin to reverse the spread of HIV/AIDS
    • HIV prevalence among population aged 15-24 years
    • Condom use at last high-risk sex
    • Proportion of population aged 15-24 years with comprehensive correct knowledge of HIV/AIDS
    • Ratio of school attendance of orphans to school attendance of non-orphans aged 10-14 years
  2. Achieve, by 2010, universal access to treatment for HIV/AIDS for all those who need it
    • Proportion of population with advanced HIV infection with access to antiretroviral drugs