Pekanbaru, Riau (ANTARA) - Riau is pursuing consistent efforts to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS in the province, including by educating people about the disease, offering medical check-ups, and treating patients.

"Efforts to prevent HIV/AIDS through education must involve many (people), such as farmers, fishermen, sex workers, medical staff, and convicts," the head of Riau Health Office, Zainal Arifin, said in a statement received in Pekanbaru on Thursday.

Education and the right approach toward certain demographics could help bring down the number of infected people, he added.

Arifin stressed the importance of increasing people’s awareness of HIV/AIDS by providing information about the relevant check-up and treatment services and removing the stigma and discrimination faced by patients.

"By combining efforts from many sectors and actively involving the community, then Riau province can address challenges surrounding HIV/AIDS and maintain people's health," he underlined.

He highlighted the worrying spread of HIV/AIDS in the province, with the latest data pegging the number of infected in the province at 3,809.

Despite the launch of many efforts, HIV/AIDS has yet to be eradicated in Riau, he said.

The rate of infection is a matter of concern, which needs to be resolved through effective means, Arifin added.

He cited data collected from districts and cities showing that as of March 2023, Pekanbaru had the highest number of HIV/AIDS cases at 2,471. Indragiri Hilir was next with 270 cases, then Dumai with 240 cases, he informed.

He said that Indragiri Hulu had the lowest number of HIV/AIDS cases in the province at 22.

Of the total patients, 1,238 HIV/AIDS patients were employees, 749 were self-employed, and 521 were housewives, he elaborated.

The data showed that in Riau, more HIV/AIDS cases were detected in farmers and fishermen (172) than sex workers (88), Arifin pointed out.

"It shows that this group (sex workers) maybe have better knowledge about HIV/AIDS and access to the relevant medical treatment. Moreover, there are also 17 AIDS cases among convicts, and there need to be special measures to educate and offer services to prevent HIV/AIDS in prisons/jails so as to reduce the risk of spread among inmates," he added.

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Translator: Frislidia, Mecca Yumna
Editor: Sri Haryati
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