Muscat: The Mississippi girl born with HIV, who was cured on Sunday, may have brought cheer to the children suffering from HIV in the Sultanate.
The Ministry of Health (MoH) Annual Health Report for 2011 revealed that 17 fresh HIV cases have been detected among nationals under 20 years of age.
"While eight children were found to be in the age group of 15-19, one was between 10 and 14, one child was between five and nine, and seven kids were in the age group of one and four years," the recently released report claimed.
Altogether, there are some 1,371 cases of AIDS in Oman, according to a 2012 United Nations report on AIDS in Oman.
The United Nations report also revealed that the HIV situation in Oman can be characterised as "low-prevalence."
"Between 1984 —when the first Omani HIV case was reported— and 2011, a total of 2,164 Omani HIV cases were reported. More than one-third of these people have died of AIDS, while 1,371 (63.4 per cent) were still alive at the end of 2011.
More than two-thirds (72.2 per cent) of all reported Omani cases were male, and 28.8 per cent were female. The main routes of transmission are heterosexual (50.2 per cent), homosexual or bisexual (14.1 per cent), mother to child (5.5 per cent), injecting drug users (4.2 per cent), and blood transfusions (3.3 per cent)," the report stated.
Apart from citizens, all expatriates seeking residence in Oman are compulsorily screened for HIV and other infectious diseases before they are granted a residence permit.
HIV screening results among expatriates show a reasonably stable number: 106 cases in 2005, 130 in 2006, 114 in 2007, 140 in 2008, 137 in 2009, 110 in 2010, and 125 in 2011. "Following this discovery, we deported as many as 125 expatriates in 2011, in line with the government's policy of mandatorily repatriating migrant workers and foreigners found with the virus causing AIDS," a senior official of the MoH stated.
The UNDP report also noted that since July 2009, Oman has started offering HIV testing and counselling services to all pregnant women, with the aim of preventing mother-to-child transmission by providing treatment and follow-up services. "HIV-positive patients are treated at 15 different sites across Oman; there were around 661 persons on anti-retroviral treatment at the end of 2011," the report added.