HIV infections must be detected earlier


        With proper therapy, people infected with HIV can live largely normally.  But there is a lack of early detection, not only in poor countries, but also in Germany.  The corona pandemic is another problem.
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        At an event leading up to World AIDS Day, activists set up candles that form a red ribbon - a globally recognized symbol of solidarity with those infected with HIV.  Photo: Skanda Gautam / ZUMA Wire / dpa (Image: dpa)
                        <span class="vrm-articleDetail__imageCopyright">(Photo: Skanda Gautam / ZUMA Wire / dpa)</span>

                Geneva / Copenhagen / Stockholm - The coronavirus pandemic threatens to set the fight against HIV and AIDS back years.

                The United Nations Program for HIV / AIDS (UNAIDS) fears that because of exit restrictions, in many places those at risk would not have had themselves tested and those infected would not be able to supply themselves with medication.  Therefore, there could be almost 300,000 additional HIV infections by the end of 2022, and nearly 150,000 additional infected people could die, according to the UNAIDS report on World AIDS Day on December 1.

                Problems with testing and therapy supply are not just in distant countries and not only because of the pandemic.  In Germany, the number of new infections last year rose for the first time since 2015, as reported by the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) in Berlin.  It is estimated that 2,600 people were newly infected with the HI virus, 100 more than in the previous year.  380 infected people died; since the epidemic began in the 1980s, there have been almost 30,000.  The RKI information is based on model calculations, as HIV is often only diagnosed years after infection.

                There must be more test offers and access to therapy must be guaranteed, said RKI President Lothar Wieler.  Around a third of diagnoses were only made when the immune deficiency was advanced, and around 15 percent only when AIDS was fully diagnosed.  The number of late diagnoses is tragic, said Sven Warminsky from the German Aids Aid.  Doctors need training to be more likely to consider HIV as a cause of disease.

                In the WHO European region with 53 countries, there were almost 136,500 new HIV diagnoses in 2019, 1.7 million worldwide.  It is estimated that twelve million infected people worldwide have had no access to medication.

                In the main group of people affected in Germany, homosexual and bisexual men, the number of new infections stagnated after years of decline.  Increases at a low level were seen in heterosexual transmission and in drug users via syringes.

                According to estimates, around 90,700 people infected with HIV were living in Germany at the end of 2019, around 10,800 of whom were unaware.  About 3,100 people were not treated despite being diagnosed with HIV.  96 percent of those infected with HIV receive antiretroviral therapy.  According to the RKI, it is almost always successful - people are no longer contagious.

                Across Europe, too, there are more and more people affected who do not know anything about their infection.  More than half of the infections are diagnosed at a late stage, when the immune system has already started to fail, reported the Europe office of the World Health Organization (WHO) and the EU health authority ECDC.  Four fifths of those newly diagnosed lived in the eastern part of the region.  It comprises 900 million people in 53 countries, including Russia, Turkey and Uzbekistan in addition to the EU countries.

                © dpa-infocom, dpa: 201126-99-472499 / 3  
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