Rabat- According to the latest study carried out by Morocco’s Ministry of Health, 70 percent of women carrying Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome, or HIV/AIDS, have been infected by their husbands, the Moroccan newspaper Al Massae reported in its Monday, March 12 edition.
The findings, presented during a study day on women’s sexual health last week in Marrakech, show that 39 percent of Moroccans living with AIDS are women. However, homosexuals remain the most affected by this disease in Morocco, according to Aziza Bennani, head of the national program against AIDS.
The latest statistics from the Ministry of Health indicate more than 1,000 new HIV-positive cases in 2016, raising the number of Moroccans living with HIV to 22,000 people, since the disease first appeared in the country in 1986.
Moreover, the annual number of people who die from complications related to AIDS increased from an estimated 3,600 in 2000 to more than 11,000 in 2016, according to a Global Aids Update 2017 issued by UNAIDS.
The ministry’s indicators also reveal that 62 percent of people with AIDS are concentrated in the Souss-Massa, Casablanca-Settat, and Marrakech-Safi regions, and 67 percent of AIDS cases were reported among people from very poor backgrounds.
To expand its strategy for fighting the disease, Morocco has adopted the World Health Organization’s recommendation, necessitating that antiretroviral therapy be initiated for every person living with HIV at any CD4 cell count.
According to international standards, HIV testing is available mostly through public health facilities. Due to the stigma associated with the disease, however, most Arab countries, including Morocco, run community testing campaigns for key populations in locations where HIV risk is high.
In Morocco, testing campaigns have increased HIV-positive people’s knowledge of their HIV status from 52 percent to 63 percent, states the Global AIDs report.
Worldwide, 36.7 million people continue to live with AIDS, yet 23 percent of people living with the disease do not have access to treatment, according to the same source.