The NSACP is responsible for planning and implementing STI/HIV prevention and control activities in the country. It is a well organized programme under the Ministry of Health with both preventive and curative services. The headquarters consists of an administrative wing and a model clinic with a reference laboratory and it networks with 31 full time peripheral clinics manned by a trained medical officer. The objectives of the NSACP are to interrupt transmission of STI including HIV and provide care and support for those infected and affected.

At present Sri Lanka is classified as a country with a low prevalence of HIV infection. As at 2016, a cumulative total of 2557 HIV/AIDS cases have been reported to the NSACP and the estimated number of people living with HIV/AIDS is around 4100.

The National Strategic Plan (2013-2017) guides the national response to HIV/AIDS and the overall goal of the NSP of Sri Lanka is to reduce the impact of HIV/AIDS on the social and development of the country. The main objectives are,

1) to maintain the low HIV prevalence among most-at-risk groups and the general population and,

2) to increase the quality of life of those already infected. The national plan consists of 5 strategies. The two core strategies are:

  1. Increased coverage and quality of prevention interventions
  2. Increased coverage and quality of care, support and treatment intervention

To support the above, four additional strategies are identified:

  • Improved generation and use of information for planning and policy development
  • Increased involvement of relevant sectors and levels of government in the response
  • More supportive public policy and legal environment for HIV/AIDS control
  • Improved management and coordination of the response.

Implementation of the NSP depends on the efforts of many government departments, non-government organizations, the private sector and Sri Lanka’s development partners. The NSACP coordinates the response, through development of technical strategies and guidelines, development of annual operational plans and budgets, resource mobilization, and capacity building of all implementing partners. The main components of the NSACP working towards achieving these objectives are policy development, management and care of sexually transmitted infections, STI /HIV/AIDS surveillance, behaviour change communication, counseling, laboratory support, prevention of mother to child transmission of HIV, infection control, research, treatment care and support for those infected and affected with HIV/AIDS.

History of STD/AIDS control in Sri Lanka

Control of venereal diseases (VD) in Sri Lanka dates back to few hundred years. History records that the first VD clinics were set up in 1886, in Colombo, Kandy and Galle. Even before that the Vagrance ordinance No 4 of 1841, the Contagious Disease Ordinance No 17 of 1867 and the Brothels Ordinance No5 of 1889 were passed in view of controlling venereal diseases. In 1878, Lock Wards were established in Colombo and Kandy to treat women. In 1920, late Sir Winston Churchill visited Ceylon and following this visit control measures were established in a more organised manner and the Ceylon National Council for the control of VD was established. In 1921, a clinic was opened in the Colombo Port for the benefit of sailors. In 1928, Ceylon was a signitory to the Brussels agreement to provide treatment for sailors.

Since 1952, measures to control venereal diseases in Ceylon were the responsibility of the Anti VD Campaign. Control of venereal diseases were in existance for a nearly hundred years and in 1949, at the request of the Government of Ceylon, the World Health Organization made available to us the services of a venereal disease consultant, Professor George Leiby. Thereafter under the leadership of Dr S M Laird a venereal disease control team arrived in July 1951 to plan a coordinated programme for Sri Lanka and the Anti Venereal Disease Campaign was established in 1952. Apart from strengthening clinic services, the WHO team recommended certain strtaegies. Since 1952, routine prenatal and pre employment blood screening was introduced. In 1953, another routine examination that of blood testing of all admissions to the Eye Hospital Colombo was commenced. These strategies have helped in controlling venereal diseases in Ceylon.