The number of patients infected with HIV/AIDS is on the rise at Rohingya camps in Cox’s Bazar, Teknaf and Ukhia.
Some 63 affected Rohingyas have been identified in the last seven months.
The Lancet, an international health journal, came up this information in its current month’s publication.
According to its report till August 2018, some 273 AIDS patients were found at Rohingya camps, and till March this year the number has increased to 319.
Of them, 19 patients have died so far and 277 others are undergoing treatment.
Among the AIDS affected Rohingya refugees, the number of women patients is more than men. In February this year, nine more were detected with the communicable disease – five of them were females.
Experts said Rohingya women and children were victims of gang-rape and other sexual abuses in Myanmar.
Now the rate of their sexual oppression is also very high in the refugee camps. Therefore, they are more vulnerable to being affected with AIDS, they added.
Sources concerned said AIDS cannot be tested directly. It gets detected through treatment of other diseases. This is why, many AIDS patients are still out of detection.
“We do not have the exact data of AIDS affected patients at Rohingya camps, but the number is increasing,” Cox’s Bazar Civil Surgeon Dr Mohammad Abdul Motin told The Business Standard.
They are doing regular counselling for Rohingya women to make them aware of the disease, he added.
Prof Dr Samiul Islam, line director (TB-Leprosy and AIDS-STV) of Health Directorate, said, “Living standard of Rohingya refugees has not been upgraded. Such community always endangers public health.”
But, as Rohingyas stay inside the camps, Bangladeshi people are at a little bit risk of being infected with AIDS, he added.
He claimed that the number of AIDS patients has not increased much, owing to Rohingya influx.
“We have kept Rohingyas under close monitoring and have not yet found a considerable number of Rohingya AIDS patients. So we think that it will not be a major concern.”
Moreover, the patients diagnosed with AIDS are getting treatment so that they cannot infect others, Dr Samiul said.
According to the National AIDS-STD Programme (NASP) Report of the Health Department, in 2017 some 865 new patients were infected with AIDS in Bangladesh. Of them, 63 were Rohingyas.
The people of 23 districts in the country are mostly at a risk of being affected by AIDS. In Chattogram alone, currently there are 1,671 AIDS patients, according to the Health Department.
Experts opined if Rohingyas are not kept away from being affected by AIDS, local people will be at risk.
It is now very essential to raise awareness among Rohingya refugees about AIDS before the situation deteriorates, according to the Lancet report.
Furthermore, social safety for women and children vulnerable to the disease has to be ensured.
It is also essential to keep health service providers ready to detect and treat AIDS affected Rohingya patients.
NASP Programme Official Mohammad SM Akhterzumman said there are facilities of HIV/AIDS detection and counselling in Rohingya camps.
Besides, the AIDS affected people are getting treatment from Cox’s Bazar Hospital.
According to a report of Health Department, at present, there are 9,11,113 Rohingya people in different refugee camps.
The first AIDS patient was found in Bangladesh back in 1989. Some 5,586 people were infected with this disease from 1989 to 2017. Among them, some 924 people died. There are 300 children on the list of AIDS patients.