HIV/AIDS infection rate drops in Ethiopia

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Addis Ababa, 31 March 2014 (WIC) - The HIV/AIDS prevalence rate has drastically dropped in Ethiopia in 2013, an Ethiopian official said Saturday.
"Currently, 734,000 people are living with HIV in the country," Asfaw Degefu, the public relation chief of the federal HIV/AIDS Prevention and Control Office (HAPCO), told Anadolu Agency.
Asfaw said that HIV prevalence rate in Ethiopia dropped from 2.1 percent to 1.3 percent in 2013.
"The fall in prevalence resulted from the government-led multi-sectoral HIV/AIDS prevention activities," he said.
Over 316,000 Ethiopians living with HIV benefit from anti-retroviral therapy (ART), which the government provides free of charge.
The HAPCO official said that Ethiopia had the highest number of HIV/AIDS infection a decade ago.
"But the rate of HIV infection among adults has been reduced by 90 percent between 2001 and 2011," he added.
Asfaw said Voluntary Counseling and Testing (VCT) and ART services are expanding across the country.
"There were only three ART centers in 2001 but the number has now increased to 838 and VCT rose to 2896 from 638," he added.
Over 90 million condoms are sold annually across the Horn of Africa nation.
A recent government document has found that comprehensive knowledge of AIDS is uncommon in Ethiopia.
According to the document, some 90 percent of women and 32 percent of men have comprehensive knowledge of transmission and prevention methods of HIV.
According to Asfaw, Ethiopia employs over 38,000 health agents in rural areas to prevent HIV, Malaria and TB.
"Harmful traditional practices, multiple sex partners, unsafe sex and mother- to- child HIV transmission are the main causes for the spread of HIV," he said.
HIV was first reported in Ethiopia in 1984. (worldbulletin.net)