Jul 212012
Indonesia AIDS

The growing numbers of HIV infections and the maternal mortality rate pose serious threats to the nation’s efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015.

Health Minister Nafsiah Mboi said on Thursday that despite ongoing preventive measures, Indonesia is still witness to an upward trend in HIV infection rates.

“At 0.3 percent, Indonesia does not have an especially high rate of HIV infection within the region. But what worries us is that the rate continues to increase,” she told journalists after attending the reorganization of financing for the country’s fight against AIDS.

“When I took up the post of Health Minister, all of our MDGs targets were on track except two: mortality during childbirth and goal number 6: HIV/AIDS prevention,” she added.

With ongoing international support provided by a number of donors, including the Global Fund, Nafsiah said that HIV prevention was not just about money.

“It’s not easy to change behavior. Behavioral changes do not depend just on money. To achieve these changes, we need strategic planning and, in particular, to choose the service packages which are most effective in preventing the spread of the infection,” she said.

During the period 2006-2010, infection caused by intravenous drug use declined to 34 percent while sexual transmission was responsible for 53 percent of total infections during the period.

In the first six months of 2011, the percentage of new AIDS infections through sharing needles stood at 16.3 percent while sexual transmission caused 73 percent of the total.

Kemal N. Siregar, newly-appointed AIDS Prevention Commission (KPA) national secretary, said the prevalence of HIV infections in gay communities had shown a sharp increase.

“Preventive measures conducted by gay and transgender movements are well intentioned, but their efforts are not insufficiently integrated with health care services,” said Kemal.

“There must be improvements in HIV prevention, particularly in better connecting programs to health care in community health facilities,” he added.

While having adopted effective policies on HIV/AIDS prevention, Indonesia still has work to do to ensure that policies are implemented, particularly at the local level.

UNAIDS country coordinator, Nancy Fee, said that action on HIV/AIDS prevention should not only be at the state level but that local officials from health departments, civil societies, and other stakeholders must work together.

“The focus needs to be on effective implementation of the programs,” she told The Jakarta Post.

Elly Burhaini Faizal