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Asian Tribune is published by E-LANKA MEDIA(PVT)Ltd. Vol. 20 No. 79

HIV/AIDS - Sri Lanka Country Data Sheet

[b]HIV/AIDS - Sri Lanka Country Data Sheet[/b]

Sri Lanka has a relatively small number of HIV/AIDS cases, but high-risk behaviors that contribute to the spread of the infection are prevalent, making the country highly vulnerable to an AIDS epidemic. Sri Lanka has a narrowing window of opportunity to forestall a large-scale epidemic, and the government has requested the World Bank’s help in expanding and strengthening its HIV/AIDS prevention efforts.

[b]State of Epidemic [/b]

According to UNAIDS, Sri Lanka, with a population of 19 million, had a relatively small number of HIV-infected people—about 4,800 adults and children—as of the end of 2002. Since 1986, only 415 cases have been officially reported, however, with underreporting due mainly to limited availability of counseling and testing and a prevailing fear of facing social stigma after being identified as HIV positive. The HIV infection rate among adults between the ages of 15 and 49 is estimated by UNAIDS to be less than 0.1 percent.

Of the total number of HIV cases reported from 1987 to 2000 in which the mode of transmission is known, 98 percent were sexually transmitted. Only a few cases of HIV transmission from mother to child and through blood transfusions have been reported. Transmission through intravenous drug use has not been reported thus far.

Because a large number of women travel to work in the Middle East, for which HIV testing is mandatory, more women than men have tested positive in Sri Lanka. The current ratio of HIV-positive men to women in Sri Lanka is reportedly 1.4 to 1, although in reality, there are probably far more men infected then women as in most early phase HIV epidemics.

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