500 Expectant Mothers Get HIV Annually in Bali
Made Arya Kencana
Denpasar. Around 500 pregnant women are infected with HIV in Bali each year, the Bali branch of AIDS Prevention Commission has learned.
“This is very disconcerting,” said Dewa Nyoman Wirawan, head of the planning, monitoring and evaluation working group on Bali HIV/AIDS Commission I.
Wirawan said that the pregnant women are getting infected with the virus that causes AIDS because their husbands tend to have multiple sexual partners and transmit the disease to their wives.
The mothers eventually transmit the disease to their babies, he said.
“Five hundred pregnant women are infected every year, and half of them transmit the disease to their babies. This means around 250 [babies] are infected every year,” said Wirawan, who is also an epidemiologist at Udayana University.
He added that it’s not easy to detect the transmission of the virus from mothers to babies. It is not usually detected until the affected children are 4 to 6 years old.
The common symptoms shown by infants infected with HIV are malnutrition and diarrhea.
“The child continues to suffer diarrhea or is always coughing. If the doctors are suspicious, they will give the child an HIV test,” he said.
Ketut Suarjaya, head of the Bali Health Agency, blamed ignorance on the use of condoms among people who exhibit high-risk behavior as the reason for the high number of cases.
The agency recorded 6,200 cases of viral transmission in Bali through June 2012. Seventy-four percent of those cases involved people in heterosexual relationships.
People between 20 and 29 years old make up 40 percent of the number of people living with HIV or AIDS in Bali.
Across the country, Bali ranks fifth among cities with the highest number of HIV and AIDS cases after West Java, East Java, Papua.
Jakarta came in second in the rate of prevalence, behind Papua.
To curb the high rate of transmission among heterosexuals, Bali is promoting the use of condoms as stipulated under Bali Bylaw No. 3/ 2006.
“Unfortunately, the efforts have yet to do any good because they haven’t gained the public’s support,” said Suarjaya.