The epidemiological situation of Aids in the Sultanate of Oman showed that the number of people living with HIV in the country reached 1,826 until the end of 2020 and 1,454 of them are under treatment (79 per cent of whom are males).
Statistics, released by the Ministry of Health, indicated that the number of registered cases of Omanis increased to 147 (Aids patients and virus carriers) in 2020 compared to 135 cases in 2016. The ministry said that the increase in the number of reported cases during the past years is due to the beginning of a gradual decline in the concept of stigma associated with the disease, the application of protocols related to the confidentiality of medical examinations, the availability of necessary medicines for treatment and the delay in deterioration of cases, which encouraged patients to visit health institutions for examination and treatment, in addition to cases discovered during pregnancy tests.
As for the maortality due to the disease, 24 deaths were recorded during 2020, including 17 deaths from the infected during the previous years, and 7 deaths from infections only reported in 2020.
This comes in light of the participation of the Sultanate of Oman with countries around the world in the celebration of World Aids Day, which falls on the 1st of December every year under the slogan "Eliminating inequalities as a means to eradicate Aids." This year's theme is to address the inequalities that are increasing cases of Aids, to reach people who do not currently receive basic HIV services, and to contribute towards efforts to end Aids and make the world a healthier place.
The Ministry of Health has intensified its efforts to reduce the spread of HIV infection and sexually transmitted diseases in society in general and the most vulnerable groups in particular. It works to improve health, physical, psychological and social conditions of people living with HIV, reduce complications of the disease, reduce death rate due to opportunistic diseases associated with Aids, treat those infected with sexually transmitted diseases and work to encourage and support the efforts of civil organisations working in the field of combating behaviours that lead to HIV infection .
The ministry said in an awareness bulletin that the virus can be transmitted through the body fluids of an infected person, such as: blood, breast milk, semen and vaginal secretions. The virus can be passed from a mother to her baby during pregnancy and childbirth. The infection is not transmitted by normal daily contact, such as kissing, hugging, shaking hands, or sharing personal items, food or water.
It should be noted that HIV-infected people who receive antiretroviral therapy and whose virus is suppressed, do not transmit the infection to their partners. Therefore, early access to antiretrovirals and continuous treatment is crucial not only to improve the health of people living with HIV, but also to prevent transmission of the virus to others.
According to World Health Organization, HIV continues to be a major global public health issue, having claimed 36.3 million lives so far. “There were an estimated 37.7 million [30.2–45.1 million] people living with HIV at the end of 2020, over two thirds of whom (25.4 million) are in the WHO African Region. However, with increasing access to effective HIV prevention, diagnosis, treatment and care, including for opportunistic infections, HIV infection has become a manageable chronic health condition, enabling people living with HIV to lead long and healthy lives”, it said.