File Photo: Egypt s acting Health Minister Khaled Abdel-Ghaffar. Photo courtesy of Egyptian health ministry Facebook page.
International AIDS Day, recognised on 1 December annually, was first observed 1988 to raise awareness about this life-threatening disease.
To combat the HIV Epidemic, the health ministry established the National AIDS Program (NAP) almost 35 years ago when the first cases of HIV infection were detected in 1986.
In a statement, Spokesman for the Ministry of Health and Population Hossam Abdel-Ghaffar said Egypt is committed to the global strategy of combating AIDS as a part of the sustainable development goals (SDGs), which aims to end the AIDS epidemic by 2030.
This strategy focuses on intensifying efforts to reach the largest number of infected people, provide care to those infected, and ensure therapeutic adherence and the efficiency of health services.
Abdel-Ghaffar stressed the provision of all services to citizens and people living with HIV is free of charge and confidential, including awareness, health advice, medical examinations, anti-viral drugs, and follow-up.
Twenty seven centres nationwide provide care and treatment services for infected individuals, he noted, adding that counseling and optional examination services are provided through 24 other centres.
The spokesperson also referred to the launch of Egypt’s NAP website to ensure the dissemination of accurate information about HIV and to raise awareness.
Dr. Heba El-Sayed, Director of the NAP, explained that the most prominent achievement of the national response to AIDS in 2021 was ensuring the continued provision of all treatment with full government funding.
This, El-Sayed added, came with the aim of providing treatment for the infected and dispensing medication for more than a month during the coronavirus pandemic to prevent crowding in centres, as well as expanding the provision of surgical and medical services to people living with the HIV.
She also confirmed the importance of updating the National AIDS Strategy 2021-2025 to meet the updated Global AIDS Strategy launched by the United Nations Program on AIDS (UNAIDS).
The Global AIDS Strategy 2021–2026, titled “End Inequalities, End AIDS,” uses an inequalities lens to close the gaps preventing progress to end AIDS and sets out bold new targets and policies to be reached by 2025 to propel new energy and commitment to ending AIDS.
Dr. Walid Kamal, the UNAIDS country director for Egypt, said: "In the light of the Global AIDS Strategy 2021–2026, we are working with Egypt’s NAP to expand the scope of HIV testing services to increase the access of people living with HIV to treatment, care, support and integrated health services.”
Kamal also praised the efforts made by the Egyptian government to provide and promote high-quality prevention, treatment, and care services for all citizens with government support to ensure the continued provision of treatment to cohabitants, according to the statement.
According to the UNAIDS's latest figures in 2020, around 37.7 million people are living with HIV around the world, classifying Egypt among the countries with the lowest infection rate.