Fri, 22 Aug 2003

Medan records 21 deaths from AIDS

MEDAN, North Sumatra: At least 21 people have died from AIDS -related illnesses in Medan, North Sumatra, since records began in 1994, Medan Health Office head Herman Shadeck said on Thursday.

Another 64 had HIV/AIDS and were being treated, he said.

"All the people with HIV are currently under our supervision along with non-governmental organizations," he told The Jakarta Post.

The extent of HIV infection in Indonesia is believed to be much higher than official figures indicate. Transmission of the deadly disease is largely blamed on foreign fishermen, particularly from Thailand. There is a limited understanding of the disease among Indonesians.

Herman said those being treated were mainly aged between 15 and 30 years.

The first case of HIV was found in Medan in 1992 and the first AIDS case in 1994.

Herman said the increase in the number of cases was due to increasing numbers of foreign fishermen, including those from Thailand, who docked in Medan.--JP