Medi-snippets: Low perception of HIV risk main obstacle to safe sex practices | Sunday Observer

Medi-snippets: Low perception of HIV risk main obstacle to safe sex practices

Myths surrounding HIV are the main reason preventing those vulnerable to the disease seeking screening and treatment freely available in government health facilities island wide, Consultant Venerologist, from the National STD/AIDS Control Program Dr Lilani Rajapaksa told the Sunday Observer.

She said a large number of HIV positive persons seek medical treatment from unqualified doctors believing they could be cured of HIV using alternative medicine. She warned that there was no drug or vaccine anywhere in the world to cure HIV / AIDs.

However, results from western drugs prescribed by qualified physicians could help them lead normal lives. “These drugs are free and available in all state hospitals,” she said. At present there are 1,600 HIV positive persons living in Sri Lanka as normal, happy persons while adhering to the medical routine recommended for them,” she added.

“If they are sexually active, have more than one partner, engage in sex with same sex they are vulnerable to HIV risks from an infected partner. Condoms are the safest precaution to protect oneself from such risks.” she said. The majority of those most at risk were young persons, mainly young men between 18-40 years who believe that because Sri Lanka is a country with a very low prevalence of HIV/AIDs, they have no need to be worried about getting the disease. Hence many of them have been found to engage in sex without using condoms.

Meanwhile, officials at the National STD/AIDs Control Program told the Sunday Observer that a series of awareness programs had been organised to mark World AIDS Prevention Day. The theme selected for this year is ‘Communities make the difference.’

The week long program kickstarted yesterday (Nov. 30) with a walk from Campbell Park to Town Hall in which around 2,000 persons from the health and non health sectors as well as those diagnosed as HIV positive and non governmental organisations participated. An islandwide banner campaign was also launched to educate the public on HIV/AIDs prevention via Police stations, STD clinics and grassroots communities.

Officials told the newspaper that doctors attached to 34 peripheral STD clinics were also given further training on dealing with patients, while free testing facilities were offered to all members of the public.

Dengue cases poised to hit 8,000 suspected cases

A total of 76,413 suspected dengue cases island wide have been reported to the Epidemiology Unit of the Ministry of Health as of Monday November 25.

In November alone 13,056 cases have been reported up to Monday (25), an increase over the 11,232 suspected cases in the previous month ( October) and the highest on record for this year so far, Epdiemiology Unit (EPU) sources told the Sunday Observer.

They said the lowest number of cases were reported in April this year at 2,970. “This indicates the number reported this month has tripled in just 7 months”, an official from the Unit said.

Approximately, 46.1 % of dengue cases were reported from the Western Province. According to Regional District Health Service figures reported to the Epidemiology Unit, at least three districts showed over a thousand accumulated cases in October, with the Colombo district leading at 2,593, Gampaha 1,893, Kandy (1,502). Kalutara came a near fourth with 988 cases in October. In Jaffna there was a sharp rise from 1,543 in September. While the numbers have shown a dip in certain areas, due to awareness raising and various anti mosquito activities including extensive and regular removal of possible mosquito breeding sites from the environment, fogging, cleaning up campaigns etc. Health sources said the number of deaths were much less due to strengthened patient education on management of fever. However, it is very important to seek medical attention in the event of fever and do relevant laboratory investigations at least by day three of the illness, they told the newspaper. .

They said they were continuing to keep a vigilant eye especially on high risk areas such as schools, community centres, temples and construction sites . “We urge the public to take more responsibility for their own home environments and neighbourhoods and keep them free from all receptacles and other dengue attracting items.”

Over 25% of Colombo’s population suffer from diabetes

A recent study on diabetes prevalence has shown that half of Colombo’s adult population has diabetes . Senior Lecturer in Medicine attached to the Colombo University and Consultant endocrinologist and diabetetologist Dr Prasad Katulanda told the Sunday Observer that the number of pre diabetic patients in Colombo was also of concern to health officials as it had now reached over 30% of the city’s population. “One in 3 adults in Colombo have pre diabetes compared to 1 in ten in 2010.

He said diabetes had become an epidemic where people in their most productive ages are now developing complications . It cannot be cured but can be controlled once afflicted by it. But if diagnosed early, with proper treatment and early lifestyle changes about 60% of pre-diabetic cases can be reversed, and complications from the disease can be avoided,” he emphasised. He warned that being overweight, obese, lack of exercise and eating wrong foods could lead to high cholesterol and hypertension and in turn lead to diabetes.