World AIDS Day 2022: HIV epidemic update of Nepal

Division, disparity and disregard for human rights are among the failures that allowed HIV to become and remain a global health crisis: WHO

Photo: UNDP

Rita Lamsal

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Today is the World AIDS Day 2022. The day is being marked around the world under the theme “Equalize”.  Nepal is also marking the 35th World Aids Day today.

The “Equalize” slogan, according to UNAIDS, is a call to action. It is a prompt for all of us to work for the proven practical actions needed to address inequalities and help end AIDS.

According to WHO, “division, disparity and disregard for human rights are among the failures that have allowed HIV to become a global health crisis, and to remain so.”

Challenges remain in Nepal 

Despite good financing–as much as two billion rupees is found to have been spent on the national HIV program last year–Nepal still has a long way to go with regard to AIDS responses. 

Despite heavy spending, AIDS menace continues unabated. As many as 510 people lost their lives to AIDS in 2021, according to the National Center for AIDS and STD Control. As many as 30,000 Nepalis are estimated to have been infected with HIV by the end of 2021. According to the Center, two persons are infected by HIV in Nepal every single day. A total of 680 people were estimated to have caught HIV in Nepal in 2021.

According to the Center, as many as 21723 AIDS patients were receiving antiretroviral (ARV) treatment in Nepal in 2021. This accounts for 72 percent of the total number of infected people, according to the statistics of the Center. Thus, according to the data, as many as 20 percent HIV infected people have no access to treatment.

Nepal has set a goal of eliminating the epidemic of AIDS by 2030 and toward this end, the country has adopted a 95:95:95 approach. The goal is to ensure 95 percent of the infected know about their infection status, to ensure that 95 percent of them have access to treatment and to ensure that 95 percent of those with access to treatment have viral load reduced on their bodies. According to the Center, Nepal has taken AIDS as the concentrated epidemic.

According to the Center, group of people at the most risk of being infected with HIV comprise people with substance addiction, sex workers, homosexual males, third genders and people on foreign employment. Of all, those involved in intravenous drug use and homosexual males have higher rates of infection, compared to others.

According to a 2020 National Survey, the infection rate was three percent among those involved in intravenous drug use.

The government of Nepal has been providing free antiretroviral treatment to AIDS patients from 84 ART centers in 61 districts.

Here is the latest fact sheet published by the National Center for AIDS and STD Control, Ministry of Health and Population, Nepal.