The Southeast Asian country of Bhutan reported 34 HIV cases between December 2013 and June 2014, according to the nation’s Ministry of Health.

The number of cases breaks down as 18 males and 16 females. Two of the cases involve minors aged 2 years old and 3 years old, respectively.

Among the same time period four years prior, the country saw 32 cases of the disease, equally split among males and females.

A 2008 report published by the nation’s Ministry of Health stated that the first case of HIV appeared in the country in 1993. Though Bhutan continues to enact measures to stop the spread of the disease, the “number of cases continues to rise steadily.”

On average, Bhutan reports five new HIV cases each month.

While other countries typically see a higher proportion of males with the virus than females, the distribution among genders is nearly equal in Bhutan.

Bhutan is a small Southeast Asian country with a population of over 750,000 people. Roughly the size of Switzerland, Bhutan has experienced strong economic growth since the beginning of the century. The nation’s per capita gross national income (GNI) has risen from $730 in 2000 to $2,070 in 2011, making it one of the highest in South Asia.

However, despite sizable drops in poverty, Bhutanese citizens suffering from severe poverty continue to become victims.

According to the World Health Organization, HIV attacks the body’s immune system. It is spread by unprotected sexual intercourse or through contaminated blood or instruments including needles and syringes. The more advanced stage of the virus, AIDS, often occurs within 10 years to 15 years of the first signs of the virus.

While there are treatments and medication that can slow the progression of the disease, there is currently no cure for either HIV or AIDS.

– Ethan Safran

Sources: Zee News, The Health Site, The World Bank, The Bhutanese, World Health Organization 1, World Health Organization 2
Photo: Authint Mail