YANG BERHORMAT PEHIN DATU LAILARAJA MEJAR JENERAL (B) DATO PADUKA SERI HAJI AWANG HALBI BIN HAJI MOHAMMAD YUSSOF
ACTING MINISTER OF HEALTH
IN CONJUNCTION WITH THE WORLD AIDS DAY 2016
THEME: HANDS UP FOR #HIV PREVENTION
1 DECEMBER 2016
Today, 1st December is World AIDS Day, an opportunity for people to work actively to raise awareness about HIV and help us move closer to the goal of an AIDS-free generation. This year's theme, 'Hands Up for #HIV Prevention,' calls us to act with urgency and adopt a whole of society approach towards implementing high-impact, evidence-based HIV prevention strategies.
AIDS (Acquired immune deficiency syndrome) is caused by HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) and Brunei Darussalam is not immune to this threat. Since our first local HIV case was detected in 1986, a total of 172 cases have been reported among citizens and permanent residents. The annual number of new cases is increasing with 17 HIV cases identified in 2014, 28 cases in 2015, and 34 cases in 2016 (up till November) which is yet our highest reported annual figure.
Several reasons can account for this perceived increase in cases – including improved HIV awareness and better screening. However, increased risky behaviours may also contribute to this rise. The Ministry of Health's data reveal that certain groups in Brunei Darussalam are at higher risk but anyone who is sexually active is at risk of HIV. Unprotected sex, with someone other than a marital partner increases the risk of contracting HIV. Other possible modes of transmission for HIV include sharing infected syringes or needles, mother-to-child transmission and receiving HIV infected blood transfusion.
The key to eliminating this threat is to understand that HIV is preventable. With three simple measures, we can minimise the threat of HIV and AIDS to ourselves and our community:
A – Abstain. Avoid any activities that can cause transmission of HIV
B – Be faithful.
C – Get Checked. HIV screening means that those who are infected know and get treatment and can take appropriate measures to protect others from acquiring the infection.
If you are concerned about acquiring HIV, speak to a healthcare professional at the nearest Health Centre or clinic. You should not feel anxious about coming forward to request an HIV test. Similar to other medical conditions such as diabetes, patient confidentiality is a key cornerstone of our health service. Additionally, it is the law in Brunei Darussalam (under the Infectious Disease Act) to protect the confidentiality of a person who tests positive for HIV.
HIV is more than just a medical condition. The reasons for its spread are socio-behavioural, and its consequences are felt at a societal level. This is why, in line with the Ministry of Health's three strategic priorities – to inculcate Health is Everyone's Business; to deliver excellent services through alignment and consolidation; and to prevent and control non-communicable diseases – we will continue to engage the public and all relevant stakeholders including non-government organisations (NGOs) towards educating the public in prevention of HIV/AIDS as well as other Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs). Working together we can end AIDS in Brunei Darussalam.
Ckick here for infographic