KUCHING - The state capital is targeting zero new HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) infections by 2020 under the ASEAN Cities Getting to Zero project.
Assistant Public Health Minister Datuk Dr Jerip Susil said the project aimed to reduce new HIV infections by improving intervention and prevention measures, and to increase the coverage and quality of treatment for HIV-positive patients.
It also aims to reduce the impact of HIV/AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome) on individuals and their families as well as reduce discrimination against people living with HIV and to raise awareness on HIV.
"This project is the state government's commitment to ensure that Sarawak, and Kuching in particular, will be free from HIV. It will be implemented under the Healthy City initiative by the State Planning Unit, the Kuching North City Commission, the Kuching South City Council and the state Health Department," he said when launching the project at the state-level World AIDS Day commemoration here yesterday.
This year's theme is "Getting to Zero - Shared Responsibility".
Dr Jerip said 211 new cases of HIV infections were reported in Sarawak from January to November this year.
"Based on this, the rate of infection is 8.09 per 100,000 persons. This is lower than the national rate of 11 per 100,000, but it has shown an increase from year to year."
He also said more than 84 per cent of these infections occurred among those aged between 20 and 49 years old, followed by those above 50 years old (11 per cent).
"The main route of transmission is through sexual activity, which accounts for 93.8 per cent of cases."
Dr Jerip added that since 1989, when the first case was reported in Sarawak, the state has recorded a cumulative total of 1,924 cases of HIV infections, 1,210 cases of AIDS and 448 deaths related to HIV/AIDS.
"It is estimated that the number of people living with HIV is 1,476," he said.