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HIV/AIDS situation under control in Bulgaria: official

11-30-2011 08:18 BJT Special Report:World AIDS Day 2011 |

by Marian Draganov

SOFIA, Nov. 29 (Xinhua) -- Doctor Tonka Varleva, Director of the "Prevention and control of HIV/AIDS" Program at the Bulgarian Ministry of Health, said on Tuesday that situation with the disease in the Balkan country was under control.

Varleva made the comments in an interview with Xinhua on the eve of the World AIDS Day that falls on Dec. 1.

"Practically, the situation with HIV and AIDS in Bulgaria is under control," Varleva said.

"We have data that the lives of people living with HIV and AIDS have been prolonged thanks to the adoption of specific antiretroviral therapy implemented in Bulgaria since 1999," Varleva added.

"In Bulgaria, there are people in whom the disease was discovered in 1987, and thanks to this therapy, they are living and continue to work," Varleva said.

Varleva said Bulgaria was still a country with low prevalence of HIV/AIDS, as the total number of the officially registered HIV carriers and AIDS patients in Bulgaria currently was 1,450, of which over 500 people have died from AIDS since 1986, when the first case was found in the country.

In recent years Bulgaria has registered between 160 and 180 new cases of HIV and AIDS annually, Varleva said.

This was a small number compared with states near Bulgaria, where sometimes several thousand people were reported annually, Varleva said.

Varleva said Bulgaria has begun to implement preventive measures among vulnerable groups long time ago.

She said the first National Program for Prevention and Control of HIV and AIDS was implemented in 1986. Since 1995 powerful prevention programs on HIV and AIDS have started, and currently the National Program for HIV and AIDS is the largest prevention program in the country.

"This program is implemented in all regions of the country and covers all vulnerable groups, and there is an absolutely balanced approach between quality diagnosis, treatment and prevention activities," Varleva said.

She said the Ministry of Health allocated considerable resources to treat people, and for prevention activities.

"Some 8 million BGN (5.5 million U.S. dollars) have been allocated for treatment and about equal amount of money on prevention, so we have a balanced approach," Varleva said.

She added that the Ministry of Health has signed a contract with 59 Non-Governmental Organizations providing services for HIV and AIDS among vulnerable groups, and steps have been taken for the introduction of health and sexual education in the Bulgarian schools.

She also said Bulgaria has been working very closely with international organizations such as the Global Program on AIDS, UNICEF, World Health Organization, and thanks to this good cooperation and financial support of the Global Fund, 19 cabinets for anonymous and free of charge testing and counseling have been opened throughout the country.

"AIDS testing in Bulgaria is free of charge for the whole population, and all HIV-positive people receive free of charge antiretroviral therapy, as well as monitoring of this therapy," Varleva said.


Editor:Zhang Rui |Source: Xinhua

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