AIDS and HIV - answers to the most common questions

AIDS and HIV - answers to the most common questions

3D representation of the HI virus with section of the individual layers and the schematic representation of the multiplication cycle. © Graphic: APA
3D representation of the HI virus with section of the individual layers and the schematic representation of the multiplication cycle. © Graphic: APA

Vienna. The social destigmatization of HIV is not progressing as rapidly as the medical successes in the treatment of the infection. From 2013 to 2017, Aids Aid Austria documented a total of 182 reports of HIV-related cases of discrimination. On the occasion of the Zero Discrimination Day on March 1, they demand that unjustified unequal treatment be put to an end.
“Discrimination against HIV-positive people takes place every day, and ignorance, unreal fears, and blaming make people at work disadvantaged and excluded from the world of work, the medical system, as well as the home, family, and friends “explained Wolfgang Wilhelm, chairman of Aids Hilfe Wien.
Irrational fears and moral judgments
Of the 182 cases of discrimination reported over the five years, 95 were health related, according to the 2017 Anti-Discrimination Report. This circumstance made it clear that as soon as a positive status becomes known, irrational fears and moral judgments continue to play a role.
The regional Aids Aids offer those affected psychosocial support, legal advice or mediation. A low-threshold and confidential approach should make it easier for people with HIV to talk about experienced devaluation, unequal treatment and discrimination, it said in the release. Since this year, reports are also online at www.aids.at accepted.
Fear of stigmatization
8,000 to 9,000 people are living with HIV in Austria, according to Aids Hilfe Wien, citing figures from the Ministry of Health. A large proportion of the victims conceal the infection – both professionally and privately – due to the fear of stigmatization, discrimination and its consequences. People with HIV have an approximately average life expectancy, usually with a good quality of life, when treated appropriately.
March 1 was proclaimed Zero Discrimination Day by UNAIDS, a UN program, and was first held in 2014. On this day, it should be pointed out worldwide that all people have a right to a life in dignity and free of stigma and discrimination.
Around 30,000 new HIV infections in Europe The number of new infections with the immunodeficiency virus in the 31 states of the EU and the European Economic Area has remained at a similar level in the previous year as in previous years. In the States, a total of 29,747 new infections were reported to the European Center for Disease Control (ECDC) and the WHO. That was around 3,000 fewer cases than in 2014.
For Austria, the Agency for Health and Food Safety (AGES) reported 264 new infections to the ECDC. However, these data are based on an Austrian HIV cohort, which extrapolates the data collected in selected treatment centers. In contrast, the Ministry of Health reports 428 new infections last year, 25 more than in 2014.
Ignorance as the biggest problem
A major problem in Europe for the ECDC is still that many people do not know that they carry the HIV virus in themselves. A timely diagnosis would be immensely important: Anyone who knows timely and is treated accordingly, can live very long trouble-free. In the EU / EEA area, however, one in seven HIV-positive patients does not know that he has the virus. According to ECDC estimates, there are about 122,000 infected people in the 31 states who do not suspect it.
The fact that someone carries the HI virus is diagnosed on average in the 31 states of the EU / EEA area only four years after the infection. In total, about six newly infected people came to 100,000 inhabitants last year (exactly: 6.3). According to the ECDC, this was a slight but not statistically significant decrease compared to 2014 (rate 6.6).
Sexual transmission
The most common mode of transmission is still sex between men. 42 percent of infections are therefore based on homosexual contacts among men. In second place is the transfer via heterosexual contacts with 32 percent. Four percent of the infections were caused by the use of used syringes. Less than one percent of transfers are from the mother to her newborn. For the remaining victims, the infection route remains in the dark.
The ECDC also drew attention to the fact that nearly every second HIV-positive patient learns of his infection at a very late stage. The ECDC emphasized that there still appears to be problems with access to HIV testing. Respectively, offers are apparently still not sufficiently accepted.
Men with HIV infection die sooner than women

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