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Pressing Need to Prevent  Spread of AIDS
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Pressing Need to Prevent Spread of AIDS

Iran has been successful in preventing the spread of AIDS by distributing sterile syringes among addicts and carrying out methadone maintenance therapy, Gary Lewis, the United Nations resident coordinator in Iran, said.
At a press conference on World AIDS Day, Lewis said 5000 people died of HIV-related illnesses in Iran in 2013. During the same year 9000 new infected cases were reported, which highlights the pressing need for prevention, IRNA reported.
Estimates indicate that there are 75,000 infected individuals in Iran; however only 29,000 have been officially registered and are receiving care and treatment.
Although the services Iran offers “are astonishing, not all those suffering from the disease are being cared for.” Approximately fifteen percent of infected individuals are given care, while the number needs to increase to 90%. “On completing all the key factors of the third phase, the UN is ready to devise the fourth phase of the global fund for HIV/AIDS project in Iran,” the official stated.
HIV patients are often unjustly stigmatized. The infected individuals develop feelings of fear and perplexity, and are too afraid to seek treatment or even have it known that they are infected. In such a situation, the necessary treatment cannot be offered; the disease could silently spread throughout the community, and eventually get out of hand.  
The UN official further said that the disease is no longer unknown, its behavioral changes have become clear, and medical procedures have been introduced to bring it under control.
The time has come “to do whatever possible to fight its spread and the UN is ready to provide the needed help”, he said.

 Funding
During 2012 and 2013 the UN allocated $14.6 million to Iran to fight AIDS. In all, $30 million has been allocated for cure and prevention of the disease. Also UNICEF and the United Nations Population Fund have been actively involved helping women and children.
The activities carried out in the country were made possible through the UN Development Program (UNDP) and with the cooperation of The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, the Center for Contagious Diseases, State Prisons Organization, and the ministry of education. More than 2.4 million people including prison inmates, addicts, and women who were violated or subject to abuse were covered and instructed.
A large majority of infected patients are drug addicts who share hypodermic needles. As the disease spreads particularly rapidly among this group, 46 education centers have been established in prisons, to teach the inmates on how to avoid high-risk acts which could pass the disease on to others once they’re released from prison.
While unsafe injection for drug use was once the main method of transmission, currently the disease is mostly spread through sexual intercourse or from mother to child during pregnancy or delivery.
 Several people could even be unaware that they carry the virus, one reason being transmission from mother to baby. Complex procedures are required to prevent this type of transmission and 11 centers are now operating in Iran for this purpose. Lewis expressed hopes that eventually there’d be “zero newborns with HIV.”

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