Published: Friday 31 October 1997

aids cases in Cuba has increased to an alarming proportion during 1997. Jorge Perez, director of the aids Sanatorium of Santiago Las Vegas says, during the first half of 1997, nearly 234 cases of hiv infection were detected that are equal to the total cases reported during 1996. Till today, nearly 1,714 cases have been confirmed in the country.

Although Cuba had operated one of the world's most stringent anti- hiv policies for years, it is now facing a dramatic upsurge in hiv infection . Following the recent trend , the government has announced a project worth us $ 600,000 to educate people about the disease. The Ministry of Public Health and the international charity Medicins sans Frontieres in Cuba have been authorised to run a public information campaign.

Earlier, according to a policy, hiv patients had to live in government-run sanatoriums. However, the policy was scrapped in 1993 after a long term controversy. Now patients are required to stay only for six months to receive education. Vera Bensmann, who coordinates the work of Medecins sans Frontieres, says if prompt action is not taken, the hiv cases would skyrocket in the days to come.

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