Mongolian health specialists and the public joined the global effort to stop AIDS/HIV in its track on World Aids Day, annually observed on December 1, by carrying a huge red ribbon from Nalaikh District Mayor’s Office to Sukhbaatar Square to show support to and solidarity with the millions of people living with HIV.
The event attracted students from Golomt Complex High School and civil servants of public and private organizations, including Deputy Mayor of Nalaikh District S.Tungalag, Social Development Department Head M.Battulga, and Deputy Head of Public Health and Assistance Services of the Nalaikh District Health Cooperative Ts.Altangerel.
The theme of this year’s World AIDS Day is “Hands up for HIV Prevention”. The campaign looks at ways to improve prevention strategies, identifying key areas among specific groups of people who are vulnerable to transmission, particularly adolescent girls and young women.
As of November 2016, a total of 219 people have been diagnosed with HIV in Mongolia, of which 35 people have died. Further study shows that 62 percent of those diagnosed with HIV are aged between 25 and 34, and that 80 percent of them are male. It also states that 99 percent of these cases were sexually transmitted.
SPEAKER OF PARLIAMENT GIVES STATEMENT ON WORLD AIDS DAY
In recognition of World AIDS Day, Speaker of Parliament M.Enkhbold gave a public speech on HIV/AIDS spread in Mongolia and efforts to prevent it.
After giving statistical data, he said, “Since promising to achieve broad multisectoral coverage for prevention, treatment, care and support with active participation of people living with HIV at the 2011 UN General Assembly High-Level Meeting on AIDS, Mongolia has been fully committed to this promise. So far, there hasn’t been an instance when HIV/AIDS transmitted through blood transfusion or during pregnancy. Mongolia is one of the countries with the lowest HIV prevalence, at less than 0.1 percent of the population, according to WHO classification. Even so, we cannot be at ease.”
“The risks of being infected have heightened considerably as the majority of the population is young and increasing number of Mongolians are moving both within and outside the country. We don’t have a second to lose for combating and preventing from this dangerous disease.”
The Speaker of Parliament emphasized raising awareness about the disease and distributing knowledge suitable for each age group at the end of his statement and noted, “Having residents get tested and protecting them from abnormal phenomena such as excessive alcohol consumption and smoking, and prostitution is the responsibility of the state, government agencies in all level and citizens, which they must fulfill for the future of the nation and themselves.”
DOCTORS RECOMMEND UNIVERSAL DIAGNOSIS COMBATING HIV/AIDS
Doctors gave some advice on preventing AIDS/HIV. In particular, they recommended everyone, especially those aged between 15 and 49, to get tested at least once a year.
The updated statistics on HIV spread indicates that 457 people of this age group are likely to have been affected with the disease. This estimation was made based on the theory that there are three undiagnosed HIV patients behind every two diagnosed HIV patients, explained a doctor.
Experts underlined the importance of organizing measures for HIV/AIDS prevention for specific target groups, young boys and men in particular.
Director of Youth Health NGO D.Myagmardorj commented, “Our organization focuses on providing services to the sexual minority, boys and men. It’s likely that there are 12,000 men who fit in the sexual minority out of all 15 to 49-year-old males. It’s considered that it’s possible to fully eradicated HIV/AIDS from such a small community. We launched a two-year project in 2015 for combating AIDS. Through this project, we’re working to test around 6,000 men in the sexual minority to diagnose hidden reservoirs and prevent them from transmitting the disease to others.”
Spokesperson of the National Center for Communicable Diseases Ch.Urtnasan says that AIDS treatments are provided for free in accordance with the law. She recommended anyone having any form of complication to immediately get tested, explaining that regular health checkups and tests can speed the detection of diseases and that early diagnosis accelerates the effectiveness of treatment.
A press conference and workshop on AIDS/HIV will be organized along with public awareness-raising advertisement, as stated by Director of the Public Health Department J.Ekhzul. NGOs, including Global Fund, are organizing various measures for the prevention of the diseases. In particular, they plan to do events for young miners working far away from their family, extend testing hours of laboratories and hospitals, distribute condoms, and cooperate with school nurses on providing health education to adolescent girls and boys, and partner with the media on raising awareness of the public about AIDS/HIV.
Furthermore, there are 84 hospitals and health centers that provide free consultation and health tests. Getting a regular checkup is a step forward for protecting yourself from potential health risks, J.Ekhzul reminded.
Places where you can get free tests for AIDSHIV in Mongolia