Egypt is experiencing a wave of new HIV infections, and many of those people are coming from neighboring countries, including Saudi Arabia, where some believe the virus is spreading through tourism and other sources of income.
The number of newly diagnosed infections is on track to surpass last year’s high of more than 4,300, according to a new report from the World Health Organization (WHO).
“The number of new infections in Egypt is expected to exceed that of the previous year, with the number of deaths from the virus now on track for the highest in the world,” said Dr. Mohamed Al-Saleh, the WHO’s regional director for the region.
Egypt is home to the world’s largest number of people living with HIV and has seen a dramatic increase in infections.
It has recorded more than 5,300 new infections since the beginning of this year, the latest data from the WHO show.
The increase in new infections comes despite the country’s attempts to curb travel, particularly to Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries, where people have been encouraged to seek treatment in the United States.
While there is no vaccine, treatment options in Egypt include the use of a medication called ritonavir (Viread), which is also approved for the treatment of a number of other conditions.
Al-Khelaifi’s team found that the new coronavirus infections were more common among women than men, and that people with lower income or who had never traveled abroad had the highest rate of infections.
“This indicates that many people are choosing to take their lives in Egypt because of the lack of health services, not because of their economic situation,” Al-Ghamdi said.
Al Jazeera’s Nasser Abdel-Moneim, reporting from Cairo, said that despite the fact that the country is experiencing an increase in cases, “the overall health situation remains poor.”
He said that the health system is understaffed and that “the health system has not been able to get enough people into the hospitals to provide good care.”