Health Minister Zahid Maleque said that the health condition of workers should be examined while returning from abroad to prevent the spread of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).
"When workers go abroad, they have to undergo tests for HIV. But the system is not followed when they return to the country," said the health minister at a programme on AIDS Day at Osmani Auditorium in the capital Thursday (1 December).
According to statistics, there are about 14,000 patients suffering from acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) in Bangladesh, of whom 10,000 have been identified, said the minister.
The health minister said, "Most of the AIDS patients in Bangladesh returned home from the Middle East and African countries with the disease. They end up infecting other people due to being unaware of their condition. That's why we have decided to launch the check-up system for inbound workers."
He also noted that the government is providing free treatment to AIDS patients, adding, "AIDS patients can live longer with treatment.
"However, due to social barriers, they keep their disease a secret and end up spreading it among others. This is causing the number of AIDS patients in the country to increase," he added.
The minister mentioned that the infection rate of AIDS in the country is 0.01% and the government wants to bring it down to zero by 2030.
Some 947 people were infected with AIDS in the country from November 2021 to October this year. Of them, 232 people died, according to the statistics.
So far 9,708 people have been identified with the HIV virus in the country, of whom, 1,820 people died.
According to the data on new HIV infections, infection rates are higher among gay men, male sex workers, intravenous drug users and migrant workers.
Additional Director General of the Department of Health Professor Dr Ahmedul Kabir said that a large number of those affected by AIDS are returning workers from the Middle East, and advised the Ministry of Expatriate Welfare to be more proactive in this regard.