Guebuza urges routine testing to fight HIV/AIDS

Maputo- Mozambique (PANA) -- Mozambican President Armando Guebuza has called fo r the introduction of routine testing for HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, into the country's health units, the Mozambican news agency, AIM, reported.
He acknowledged, however, that this option would imply changes to Mozambican le gislation and to the administrative procedures currently in force.
President Guebuza spoke in Maputo at ceremonies marking World AIDS Day, which is observed globally on 1 December every year.
He said routine testing was "a type of intervention that can have an impact in reversing the current picture", but insisted the human rights of the patients m ust be respected.
The Mozambican leader said it was that respect that would distinguish routine testing from compulsory testing.
Mozambique's national HIV prevalence rate appears to have changed a little over the last three years.
The epidemiological surveillance round of 2004 suggested that 16.
2 per cent of Mozambicans aged between 15 and 49 were HIV positive.
According to Health Minister Ivo Garrido, the latest survey, of 11,000 pregnant women across the country, came up with a figure of a 16 per cent HIV prevalence rate.
Guebuza warned that nobody should take comfort from the apparent stabilisation in the infection rate.
"In the first place, the figure of 16 per cent is still very high", he said.
" It means that one in every six Mozambicans is infected.
It means that one and a half million of our fellow countrymen are infected, and that there are st ill 500 new infections every day.
" "We have to face this epidemic as a serious obstacle to our development.
These infection figures threaten to undermine the results we are achieving in the fig h t against poverty.
So each one of us, infected or not, should feel responsible for revers ing the current levels of infection," the President said.
Prevention, he continued, remained "the cheapest, most effective weapon, and is accessible to all of us.
" He said counselling and voluntary, confidential testing should also be encourag ed, since "early discovery of the disease increases the likelihood of success i n interventions that can prolong the patient's life".
AIDS was no longer a death sentence, he pointed out, saying treatment with the life-prolonging anti-retroviral drugs was now available in all Mozambican distr i cts.
He said, therefore, that since AIDS can be treated, but not cured, it had come to the same level as other chronic diseases such as diabetes.

03 december 2007 11:23:00

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