There are a total of 510,000 people estimated to be living with HIV and AIDS in the Middle East and North Africa, although it has been difficult to collect actual numbers (UNAIDS, 2005b). Intravenous drug use, the sharing of needles, men having sex with men, prostitution, and low condom usage have all helped to fuel the outbreak of HIV infection. The country affected the most in this area is Sudan. Although Sudan has in­creased efforts at educating the public about HIV and AIDS, one study found that only 5% of women knew that condom use could protect them from HIV infection, and more than two-thirds of the women had never heard of a condom (UNAIDS, 2005b).

Other Issues

The majority of HIV-infected people in the hardest hit areas outside the United States do not have access to HAART therapy because of the expense or other reasons. It is es­timated that about 250,000 people in the developed world are on HAART therapy (D. Brown, 2002b). Bringing HAART therapy to poor countries has been controversial. Some argue that people dying from AIDS should have access to all drugs, regardless of their ability to pay for them (as we discussed earlier, HAART therapy costs range from $10,000 to $15,000 per year in the United States—although many U. S. companies make the medications available for less in some countries). Others argue that money is more wisely spent on AIDS education and prevention rather than on triple-therapy drugs for those already infected. Opponents also argue that there is little expertise in administer­ing the drugs in poor countries, and this could cause an increase in resistant strains of HIV (D. Brown, 2002b).

The Middle East and North AfricaQuestion: If a person has been diagnosed with an STI, does he or she need to use condoms for the rest of his or her life?

It would be a good idea to talk to your healthcare provider about this. Often, if you have been diagnosed with herpes, genital warts, or HIV, healthcare providers will advise wearing condoms during sexual activity to decrease the risk of transmission to your sexual partner(s). The answer to this question really depends on the particular STI and whether or not it is curable.

Recent research suggests that, in developing countries, counseling is being increas­ingly recognized as an important part of care for people with AIDS and their families. Providing education and information has also gained popularity. In some countries, home-based health care is also being established to remove some of the burden from the hospitals, increase quality health care, and reduce costs.

Подпись:C4 PREVENTING STIS AND AIDS—————————————————– 1

You might be feeling pretty overwhelmed with all this new information about STIs. It’s important not to lose sight of the fact that there is much that you can do to help pre­vent a sexually transmitted infection. If you are sexually active, one of the most impor­tant things you can do is to get yourself tested. When you get into a sexual relationship, make sure your partner is also tested. Today’s experts recommend full testing for STIs for sexually active men and women, including HIV testing (L. A. Johnson, 2005).

You can also make sure that you carefully choose your sexual partners and use bar­rier methods such as condoms to reduce your chances of acquiring an STI. Unless you are in a monogamous relationship, it’s important to avoid high-risk sexual behaviors (see Sex in Real Life, “High-Risk Sexual Behaviors,” on page 495). In addition, it’s also im­portant to be sure you are knowledgeable about STIs. Knowledge and education are powerful tools in decreasing the frequency of STIs.