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World AIDS Day – What are the facts 41 years after the first case?

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Information and awareness events today in the center of Athens. At the same time, the Prime Minister visits the club Positive Voice at 10.00 am

This year is marked by the decrease observed in new HIV diagnoses during the first ten months of 2021.

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The EODY, however, draws attention, as the drawing of safer conclusions will be possible, after the sending of the statements from the country’s health agencies is completed by the end of the year.

On the occasion of World AIDS Day, the National Public Health Organization is conducting events information and awareness in the center of Athens.

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Specifically today (15:00-21:00), at the EODY mobile unit, which will be located in Gazi – Kerameikos Metro Station, specialized staff will provide information and awareness services about HIV, with the aim of promoting safer sexual intercourse, improving the living conditions of people living with HIV as well as addressing social stigma.

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis is also visiting the Positive Voice club today at 10:00 a.m., on the occasion of World AIDS Day.

What are the epidemiological data – A total of 430 cases of infection in 2022 in Greece

According to the compulsory declaration system of the EODY (KEELPNO), up to 31/10/22, 19,731 cases of HIV infection have been recorded, of which 4,587 have developed AIDS and 11,908 are under antiretroviral treatment, while we also had 3,309 deaths.

In the period 1/1/22 to 31/10/22, 430 new cases of HIV infection (4 per 100,000 population) were diagnosed and reported to EODY (4 per 100,000 population), a percentage lower than that reported for the corresponding period in the last 11 years, while over time most transmissions of the virus are attributed to unprotected sexual intercourse.

When was it established?

December 1 was established as World AIDS Day in 1988, by decision of the World Health Organization and then the UN General Assembly.

Today, 41 years after the first description of an AIDS case (1981), it is estimated that 38.4 million people are living with the virus, while a further 36 million have died from the disease.

The shock to health systems – due to the COVID – 19 pandemic – has reduced diagnostic testing and treatment supply and has shrunk HIV and AIDS prevention programs and services worldwide. Our societies need to show greater awareness and solidarity and share their responsibilities by embracing sex education programs for students and parents, which act as a core of change on two levels: preventing the transmission of the virus but also eliminating stigma and discrimination.

In these years, however, the reality regarding the disease has changed dramatically, since with the help of modern antiretroviral therapy, patients are no longer sick and the life expectancy approaches that of the general population. Newer antiretroviral drugs are highly effective, with side effects relatively rare and usually mild. Many of the combinations are now available in single tablet formulations (Singl Tabl Regimens) so that treatment is now simple and easy – one pill, once a day.

The radical change in the biological reality of the HIV disease has not, unfortunately, been accompanied by a corresponding improvement in the perceptions and prejudices of a large proportion of the population. Thus, metaphysical phobia, panic, rejection of sufferers and racism still prevail.

The effectiveness of modern treatment has led to its application also for the purpose of prevention. Thus, it has already been established to administer antiretroviral drugs before possible exposure to HIV (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis, PrEP) to people with very risky sexual behavior who are unable to change it. PrEP is already administered in 46 countries in the world and is expected to be approved in our country as well

However, prevention must be based on coordinated efforts, at the level of the population and not only of individuals, with the main target at young ages, starting from the first levels of education and including all Sexually Transmitted Diseases.

On the occasion of the International Day of the fight against AIDS – December 1st, the necessity of action should be understood by the State, not only with the administration of drugs, but also with broader and systematic interventions in the community.

AIDS is one of the deadliest epidemics in world history.

Sexual intercourse is the main mode of transmission of HIV.

Despite the global control effort, the HIV/AIDS epidemic continues to remain unchecked in most countries of the world, especially in sub-Saharan Africa.

Epidemiological data in Greece:

In Greece, approximately 19,731 people have been registered with EODY (KEELPNO) since 1981. In the period January 1, 2022 to October 31, 2022, 430 new cases of HIV infection (4.0 per 100,000 population) were diagnosed and reported to EODY, of which 343 (79.80%) concern men and 87 (20.20 %) in women.

In the first ten months of 2022 most of the cases diagnosed and reported to EODY concerned people infected through unprotected sexual contact, mainly between men. In particular, 202 (46.98%) new HIV diagnoses concern men who had unprotected sexual contact with men (ASM), while 94 (21.80%) concern people who were infected through unprotected heterosexual sexual contact. Injecting intravenous drug use (IDU) was reported as a possible mode of infection for 52 (12.09%) new cases.
Also, during the first 10 months of 2022, 5 cases of vertical transmission of the virus were reported.

The worldwide data:

Worldwide have been recorded:

  • 38.4 million people with HIV infection, 36.7 million adults and 1.7 million children
  • 1.5 million new HIV infections
  • 650,000 deaths from HIV infection,
  • 75% receive antiretroviral therapy

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