The National AIDS (sexually transmitted acquired immune deficiency syndrome) Control Programme says that the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection among males was on the rise. The Programme is also planning on organizing and conducting clinics including mobile outreach clinics for vulnerable populations including youth, bus drivers, three-wheeler drivers and minor workers.

The Western Province records the highest number of cases. District wise, Colombo, Gampaha and Kalutara report the most number of HIV positive cases. Last year, there were 249 such cases, out of which 189 were males and 60 were females.  Among the females, there is a reduction. In 2016 as many as 1.1 million persons were screened. The Programme plans to screen 1.2 million individuals this year including blood donors whose blood is used in blood transfusions and pregnant mothers. Screening is being gradually increased.

Director of the Programme, Dr. Sisira Liyanage said that the trend was “going up” among males who engaged in homosexual activities.  It was recently reported that 55 individuals had been diagnosed with HIV during the past two months. This is in part due to the numbers visiting STD testing clinics increasing.

Meanwhile Dr Liyanage noted that a circular issued by the Director General of Health Services meant that a person’s HIV or pregnancy status, if employed in the public service, need not be divulged except for in exceptional circumstances. The Programme also provides medical evidence when requested by police or the Courts.

He explained that sex education in schools was being conducted in collaboration with the Family Health Bureau, adding that field officers of the Programmes were working together with principals of schools in this regard. Last year 75,000 school children were educated.