HIV: Early detection to better life

The Voluntary Counselling and Testing Service (VCT) has urged anyone who feels he/she has been exposed to HIV infection to come forward for the blood test, which is essential to reduce risk.

“The sooner one takes the blood test the better. Individuals are not asked to identify themselves. So take a test and find peace of mind,” encouraged VCT team, Directorate of Muscat, Ministry of Health.

The testing of HIV in Oman is provided free of cost at government health institutions in complete confidentiality. To make the process much easier, the VCT Service has been arranged in the governorates. The anonymous tests give results within minutes.

“If the person has no infection they will be reassured, but if they have, early detection is essential in reducing the risk of developing HIV/Aids,” said an official, Ministry of Health. Treatment available can help one live a long and fulfilling life, he pointed out.

According to the VCT Service official, no one, except the medical personnel involved, will know that a person has come for an HIV test.
The VCT Service official explained that an infected person may look healthy and the only possible way to detect an infection is through laboratory test for HIV. It is important to refrain from using drugs and sharing contaminated needles. “Be a part of the fight against Aids,” he urged.

The need for continuous awareness has made the team clarify once again that the HIV/Aids can only be contracted through unprotected physical relationships, sharing needles, passed on from mother to child, through contaminated blood transfusion and organ transplant, and at the same time cannot be contracted through
sharing toilets, sharing meals, insect/mosquito bites, handshaking and swimming together.

“HIV lives in human body only. But like diabetes and hypertension patients, people living with HIV can live a normal life with treatment. And early detection is important so the early screening for HIV and its treatments lead to a better life. Knowledge about ways of HIV transmission can protect one from HIV/Aids,” explained the VCT Service team.

The numbers to call for free HIV test are DSDC 91148040, Al Khoudh 90656777, Qurayat 92318777, Al Amerat 91496777 and Al Suwaiq 99419722.

“With proper treatment, people living with HIV (PLHIV) can now expect to live a long and healthy life with near normal life expectancy, and therefore nowadays HIV is referred as a chronic communicable diseases,” writes Dr Saif al Abri, Director-General for Disease Surveillance and Control in the foreword of HIV in Primary Health Care Manual.

The first case of HIV was diagnosed in 1984 and by the end of 2017, out of total 2,920 registered cases, 1,597 cases are living with HIV and the rest 1,323 cases of HIV have died.

“After the launch of HIV management guidelines in Oman in 2015, HIV in Primary Care Manual 2019 was a logical step forward to integrate HIV related services in primary healthcare services of the country in both government and private healthcare sector,” stated Dr Al Abri.