HIV/AIDS prevalence record low:
MSM to lead HIV/AIDS in Sri Lanka by 2015
Men having sex with men (MSM) act as a bridge between safe persons
and HIV infected/risky persons. HIV spreads mainly through sex workers
and husband/wife relationships in the past and at present but in the
future (around year 2015 and beyond) MSM will be solely the main factor
in the spreading of HIV. MSM stands at No.2 in the high risk groups. Sex
workers are on top of the list. Sri Lanka needs to be vigilant on the
increasing number of HIV infections and need to take all available
precautionary measures to keep the low HIV prevalence rate as it is,
Consultant Venereologist Dr. G. Weerasinghe said at a recent media
seminar held at the Sri Lanka Foundation Institute, Colombo.
According to Dr. Weerasinghe, present HIV prevalence rate in Sri
Lanka is less than 0.1 percent cent but it could increased due to
various factors in future. It is estimated that there are around 35,000
homosexuals (gay persons) in Sri Lanka at present. Commercial sex
workers and MSM are two main potentials for expanding the HIV positive
population. MSM will be the main factor in the future.
Through a power point presentation, Dr. Weerasinghe pointed out that
95 percent cent of HIV infections set in due to homo sexual
relationships and 84.3 percent infections through heterosexual
relationships. Another 10.5 percent infections are due to homosexual and
bisexual relationships while 4.5 percent of infections through perinatal
relationships. Only 0.4 percent cent infections take place through blood
The latest statistics reveal that cumulative HIV cases in Sri Lanka
as at June 30 this year as 1388. The Number of HIV positives followed up
in clinics stands at 775. There are 300 HIV infected persons on ART. In
Sri Lanka we have many 'feats' to be proud of with regard to HIV/AIDS.
The main factor is Sri Lanka's significantly low HIV/AIDS prevalence
rate (less than 0.1) which is one of the lowest in the entire world for
a long time.
There are certain factors we have to take care of in order to
maintain our proud HIV/AIDS low prevalence status and there are certain
internal and external forces that dislike our extremely low HIV/AIDS
prevalence rate. Therefore we have to be vigilant and active when it
comes to maintaining this low prevalence rate.
According to the majority of the Sri Lankan public, it is Sri Lanka's
rich cultural heritage and religions that protect the Sri Lankan society
They say that Sri Lankan culture never encourages people to engage in
risky sexual practices and always inspire them to protect themselves and
their loved ones.
It discourages pre-marital sex. It is the same with all the religions
in Sri Lanka. The culture and all religions teaches Sri Lankans to be
faithful to themselves and to their spouses.
But this is not so when it comes to many other non Asian countries
and their cultures.
About what we should be concerned in order to maintain our low
HIV/AIDS prevalence rate ? This is the main factor Sri Lanka should be
focused on at the moment. There are certain groups of persons such as
migrant workers, drug addicts (who use needles to inject drugs),
commercial sex workers, MSM (Men having sex with Men), LGBT ( Lesbians,
Gays, Bisexuals and Trans Gender persons) in our society. The
percentage/number of such persons is very low. Majority of them live
invisibly while some powerful LGBT persons live openly. But all of them
face the same risk when it comes to health and HIV/AIDS.
When they visit health institutions, the authorities should ensure
that they receive the best health care service plus education without
This is the only way of minimising the spread of HIV in Sri Lanka.
The NGOs which claim that they are engaged in HIV/AIDS prevention,
homosexuals and lesbians and their organisations too have a big
responsibility. It is looking after their own health and the health of
their partners, families and friends. But it is pathetic to see that
most of them are busy fighting for their `rights' and promoting their
sexual preference. First of all it is right to safety and health they
should fight for.
HIV/AIDS control only provides them a good camouflage / cover up
which can be used to promote their real activities. HIV/AIDS control is
the best ever cover up found by them because it always receive state
sponsorship which is only a dream for gay and lesbian organisations in
These specific groups of persons face an additional risk because of
their risky sexual behaviour.
It is a well known fact that commercial sex workers are at a greater
risk and they need to wear condoms. But sometimes their clients do not
allow them to do so. In the recent past health authorities detected nine
female HIV positive commercial sex workers from the Colombo city.
Another well known fact is that the majority of MSM do not wear
condoms for various personal reasons. LGBT persons face the same problem
Special attention should be paid to encourage above groups of persons
to use condoms all the time and come forward and get themselves tested
for HIV regularly. So far the majority of HIV/AIDS awareness raising
programs were not focused on them. No point of educating the same,
educated, target groups such as journalists all the time.
It is some extra work for the NGOs to find out strategies and
approach them, but it should be done no matter how expensive and hard it
is. According to recent media reports published some NGOs promote
homosexuality in Sri Lanka pretending that they are engaged in HIV/AIDS
Sometimes one can suspect whether some NGOs working on preventing
HIV/AIDS or promoting it because of their suspicious behaviours and
strange approaches towards the issue. Even mentioning about culture and
religions is poisonous for them.
They laugh at our rich cultural heritage and religions. They faint
when a news item appears on a national newspaper stating that culture
and religions make a significant contribution towards preventing
HIV/AIDS and even call the journalists to express their protest against
such a news item !
The behaviour of external forces is not surprising at all. Everything
comes in the `goodwill' wrapper.
No one suspects about anything and no sign of a plan B or a hidden
agenda. Some NGOs distribute lubricants and needles (for injected drug
users) ! The drug use can exchange a used syringe to a new one.
This is a strategy used to control HIV/AIDS in highly affected
countries in the world where no other method works. But Sri Lanka is
still in its initial stage of the disease with less than 0.1 prevalence
As watchdogs of the society it is our duty to tell the public the
true situation exists in the country. It is your duty to take care of
yourself and your loved ones.
It is our duty to protect our culture and religions which take care
of mother Lanka.
It is very easy because we are still in the very early stage of the
disaster. We have a stronger weapon than any other country in the world
to fight against HIV/AIDS. It is our culture and religions. Our literacy
rate is over 90 percent. We do not have a heavy work load.
Only thing we have to do is living our lives as real Sri Lankans and
be united against imported strategies of HIV/AIDS prevention.