North Korea has a HIV Problem – but claimed to be free of the Virus
In December 2018, when the world Aids day, celebrated North Korean government officials and employees of the world health organization, WHO, in North Korea’s capital, Pyongyang, something which can hardly claim a different country of the world: North Korea is free of the Human immunodeficiency Virus, better known as HIV. The doctor Thushara Fernando, WHO representative in North Korea, said at the time that in the isolated country, no HIV infections were reported – at least to his knowledge. He’d chalk this as a success of prevention in the country and the widespread HIV testing, such as the magazine “Science” reports.
But the reality is probably quite different, as the magazine writes. So the North Korean health officials should have noted is secretly a growing number of HIV-infections and Aids-related diseases. Accordingly, there have been 2018 almost 8400 HIV-Infected, as a report from a researcher puts teams from the United States and North Korea. The first confirmed infection of a North Korean citizen had been registered, accordingly, in January 1999. Since then, infections in the 25-million-inhabitants-of the country be increased steadily. For comparison: In Germany, some 86,000 people were living with HIV at the end of 2017, with approximately 2,700 new infections in the same year.
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HIV Rate is higher than expected
According to the epidemiologists Chris Beyrer of John Hopkins University in Baltimore, this was an “impressive Start”. Zunyoun Wu, chief epidemiologist at the Chinese center for control and prevention of diseases in Beijing, adding that North Korea HIV Rate “is much higher than expected”. The authors of the study warned now that the North Korean government “could take strict measures to curb the disease,” for example, the criminalization of HIV Status and the imprisonment or deportation of people with HIV or Aids.
Remarkable in the study is that U.S. and North Korea have worked together for niche researchers. Had started cooperation already in 2013, when North Korean research colleagues at DoDaum, a non-profit organization in New York, the health and educational projects in North Korea operates, turned and zwa from, so Taehoon Kim, co-founder of the organization: “We have begun, in more distant parts of the country to travel to us patient-to-meeting and the current problems to understand.” He also said that a “good ratio”. Nevertheless, the North Koreans did not want to announce first of all the results.
North Korea is fighting with HIV-infection
The Team had to find, that internal reports in North Korea have signed a much darker picture, as it was known to the Public. So, North Korea’s center for disease control, in 2015, would have recorded a steady increase in infections. In 2018, the National Aids Commission of North Korea finished a country-wide investigation, which pointed to a sharp increase in infections with HIV. The national HIV infection rate, therefore, in the case of 0,069 per cent. For comparison: In the USA, according to the epidemiologists Beyrer, about 0.6 percent, in Germany of around 0.1 percent, according to the Robert Koch-Institute.
Despite the in comparison to other countries of low HIV Rate in North Korea, the Communist-ruled country have to contend with problems, the report said. “The reliable diagnosis and treatment of patients remains an elusive goal,” says Kim of DoDaum. So there is in the whole country, only three laboratories with modern HIV Tests. According to Kim, his organization had subjected to about 3,000 North Korean patient of a combined anti-retroviral therapy (ARV). Tightened international sanctions against North Korea have, however, made it difficult to import drugs. In addition, the high tuberculosis Rate, it is aggravating in the country of treatment.
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An employee of the North Korean Ministry of health, explained to Science: “on the one Hand, the message of the existence of these patients can lead to a reaction of the Central government, since it has, in General, great fear of communicable diseases. On the other side of the Problem, to have no treatments will continue, if not reported and the existence of is not recognized.”
According to North Korea’s National Aids Commission, the HIV Virus will donations in the country, most often in blood or injection of drugs transferred. Also, female prostitutes are more often affected. In Germany, the most common mode of Transmission for HIV is Sex between men. Transmission through injection drug use or through blood products in Germany are much rarer, but are not common. According to Chris Beyrer, the high rate of infection in blood products in North Korea was “very worrying”. A reason could be, according to him, the re-use of contaminated medical instruments.
The report calls on the international community to launch a special campaign to provide people in the North Koreans with the necessary medicines and rudimentary health care system of the country to rebuild. Because if the HIV epidemic is spreading more, could take the lead in the country, draconian measures “to contain the disease at any cost”. North Korean laws allow the government, the Sick against their will to relocate or to deport you, noticed Taehoon Kim in “Science”.
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Sources: “Science”, “Ars Technica”, Germany Radio Nova, Robert Koch Institute, The German AIDS Help