HIV Statistics and Preventive Measures Highlighted by Consultant Venerologist
Dr. Thilani Rathnayake, Consultant Venerologist at Anuradhapura Hospital, shed light on Sri Lanka’s HIV landscape, revealing an estimated 3,600 to 4,000 individuals living with HIV in the country. Notably, 607 new cases of HIV infections were reported recently, underscoring the ongoing concern surrounding sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).
Dr. Rathnayake emphasized that more than 6,000 individuals seek treatment annually at 41 sexual health clinics across general hospitals for various STDs. Among these, genital herpes registers the highest number of cases, while Gonorrhoea, Syphilis, and genital warts remain common STDs.
Reflecting on the situation in the Anuradhapura district, Dr. Rathnayake disclosed that last year, 113 HIV cases were reported. In the sexual health clinics, 727 patients sought assistance, with 375 female and 352 male patients. Among them, 21 cases of Gonorrhoea, 13 cases of Syphilis, 94 cases of genital herpes, and 75 cases of genital warts were detected.
Highlighting the importance of early diagnosis and treatment, Dr. Rathnayake stressed that prompt intervention plays a pivotal role in HIV prevention, as well-controlled patients have a notably low risk of transmitting the virus. She mentioned two effective vaccines—Hepatitis-B and HPV—that serve as preventive measures against STDs.
Hepatitis-B vaccination is recommended for individuals with acute hepatitis-B infection, drug users, and HIV-positive individuals to curb new infections. Additionally, the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine, eligible for girls aged 9-12, is proven to prevent 90% of cervical cancer cases and the occurrence of genital warts, offering a significant shield against HIV-related complications.