Need for Vigilance Against ‘Third Wave’ of HIV

Need for Vigilance Against ‘Third Wave’ of HIV Need for Vigilance Against ‘Third Wave’ of HIV

A warning on “the third wave of HIV” spread in the country was sounded by Abbas Sedaghat, Head of AIDS and Sexually Transmitted Diseases Control Department, at the Ministry of Health.

 “We must remain vigilant as there is a risk of the return of HIV by 2020,” he said.

Similar to the last wave, the causes could be drug abuse through contaminated syringes followed by unprotected sex, both attributed to the rising risk of the pandemic.    

Developing quantitative and qualitative preventive measures as well as setting up counseling centers for HIV patients are some of the measures taken by the Health Ministry to address the issue. All HIV-afflicted patients are treated free of charge and their medical care is strictly confidential, ISNA reports.

Laboratory networks as well as 11 specialized regional centers for advanced HIV screening in different districts have been set up to promote quality of care and extend treatment coverage, he said.

Moreover, measures to prevent HIV transmission from mother to baby through timely action can reduce the risk of infection by 2%.

 First Wave

The first wave of HIV-AIDS transmission in the country was seen in the mid-1980s when imported blood bags from France to treat hemophiliacs turned out to be contaminated. Approximately 300 Iranians were infected with the tainted blood products.

After thorough screening by the Health Ministry traces of HIV contamination in blood products were completely eliminated and there is no concern now over blood transfusion in the country.  

The second HIV pandemic was observed in the late 1990s among prisoners and drug addicts. The highest risk of HIV infections at that time was among addicts who shared syringes. Preventive measures successfully carried out reduced the prevalence rate of HIV in the past decade.  

“Sexually transmitted HIV infections due to unprotected sex, along with the spillover of risk factors from the second wave may lead to the emergence of the third wave of HIV,” he said.

As women are more susceptible to infections, they can pass on the virus to their children.

Sedaghat pointed to increasing use of psychotropic substances in some regions. “Change in patterns of drug use and psychotropic substances result in negative behavioral attitudes that give rise to diseases such as HIV.”

Public awareness should be raised through mass media and by organizations that deal with adolescents, including universities and the Education Ministry. Public awareness is the key to restraining the third wave.

Risky sexual behavior, illicit relations, drug/psychotropic substances abuse and alcohol are the major factors contributing to HIV and STDs and the youth must steer clear of them.