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AIDS/HIV in Indonesia Now at Epidemic Levels

Health Experts Sound Warning. Greatest Growth in New Sufferers Among Intravenous Drug Users.

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At a recent meeting of health experts meeting in Kuta to discuss HIV/AIDS concluded that the disease has already reached the "concentrated level of an epidemic" in Indonesia with an estimated 90,000 Ė 130,000 people infected by the virus.

Indonesia's Minister of Health, Achmad Sujudi, told the gathering that while official statistics place the number of full-blown AID sufferers at only 1,525 and those infected with HIV at 2,865, the real numbers are much higher with the disease resembling the proverbial "tip of the iceberg" that is only 10% visible to the naked eye.

According to the Minister, the highest prevalence of HIV in Indonesia is among intravenous drug users, estimated to be between 22-47 percent of all those affected. Moreover, in 2003 epidemiologists estimated that 80% of all new infections in Indonesia were among intravenous drug users.

Statistics from the National Narcotics Center (Kalakhar) estimate that there are 3.9 million illicit narcotic users in the Country.

Meanwhile, commercial sex workers in Indonesia were estimated to have an infection rate of something between 5-26%.

In an effort to stem the onslaught of the disease educational programs are being carried out in 30 provinces of Indonesia, and government-funded subsidies are being provided for condom distribution and the administration of anti-retroviral (ARV) treatments for those who have already contracted HIV.

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