Today, Algeria, just like the rest of the planet, observes World AIDS day. Various conferences, seminars, and shows as well as detection campaigns are organized throughout the country on this occasion. This year, Aniss, a non-governmental volunteer organization innovated by launching a blogging day. The organization, based in the coastal city of Annaba in eastern Algeria, is dedicated to the fight against sexually-transmitted diseases and HIV-AIDS. The theme of this “SIDA Blogging Day” (SIDA is AIDS in French) is to fight stigmatization and show solidarity with people living with AIDS in Algeria. The association with illicit sexual activities is still prevalent in Algerian society and AIDS is rarely spoken about openly. People affected by the disease are viewed with suspicion, carrying the double burden of sickness and social stigmatization. According toDr. Salima Bouzghoub of the Pasteur Institute there are, officially, 5381 cases of HIV-positive and 1234 cases of AIDS in Algeria, with an average of 50 new cases of AIDS and 200 new cases of HIV-positive every year. But Dr. Bouzghoub recognizes that the real numbers could be larger given the limited number of detection centers in the country and the fact that many patients prefer not to declare their disease, getting to hospitals when they are about to die. Some laboratories even neglect to declare the cases they have identified. Long considered an imported “foreign disease”, the AIDS virus has now become a local one increasingly affecting men and women equally. The dominant mode of transmission, between 80% and 90%, remains sexual mainly because of cultural resistance to the use of condoms. Chances of survival for AIDS victims in Algeria are still low in comparison to western standards due to the limited availability of medication.
The blogging day campaign has been joined by various active youth-oriented organizations such as Le Souk, Jam mag, Kherdja and Denia Bkhir. This should hopefully contribute to a greater awareness of the disease and its ramifications, given that,according to UNICEF, 67 % of contamination cases concern the 15 to 24 years old age group and 9 out of 10 young Algerians don’t have a correct understanding of the disease. In a poll at the University of Tizi Ouzou only about 3% of the 1800 students polled knew the modes of transmission of AIDS.