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Monday 19.03.2018 | Name days: Jāzeps

HIV Association: situation with HIV did not improve at all last year

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Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RU371 new cases of HIV infection were registered in Latvia in 2017. This is six cases more than the year before. The number of new AIDS cases increased slightly. The most worrying tendency is associated with the causes behind the spread of HIV – more than one-third of registered HIV cases have unknown cause of infection, as reported by Baltic HIV Association.

«The situation with HIV did not improve last year, unfortunately. On top of that, we have noticed certain negative trends,» said Baltic HIV Association manager Inga Upmace, commenting on data compiled by Disease Prevention and Control Centre.

«One third of all new HIV patients were infected in an unknown way – 135 cases or 36% of all infection cases. This is as many as there were in 2016. Lack of information about the cause of infections makes it harder to plan treatment and makes us question the validity of statistical data,» Upmace comments.

Negative conclusions come from analysis of lethal outcomes – 100 people died from AIDS in Latvia last year. This is 24 more than 2016. This data is associated with treatment quality and patients’ participation in the process. Treatment in Latvia was launched late in 2017 (threshold of 350 CD4 cells). This goes opposite to recommendations from UNAIDS – starting treatment immediately once HIV test shows positive result. It is expected for the situation to improve in the future, because funding has been allocated for early HIV patient treatment, said Upmace.

She says the proportion of HIV patients for whom treatment is not provided will remain in Latvia. This is because their immune system indexes do not allow commencing virus treatment. Nevertheless, HIV treatment also has very effective measures to ensure a patient does not become infectious to others, Upmace continues.

Infection index is the highest among patients infected through heterosexual contacts (131 cases), followed by use of intravenous narcotics (78 cases), homosexual contacts (24 cases). It is good that there has been a decline in the number of cases when HIV is passed on from mother to child (three cases in 2017 and six in 2016). Data accurately presents specialists’ warning – the portrait of HIV patients has changed. They are no longer limited to certain groups – it can be anyone, as noted by Baltic HIV Association.

The proportion of women and men among new HIV patients remained unchanged – 35% of all HIV patients are women. Riga and Pieriga remain in the lead in terms of the number of HIV patients. 74% of all cases are registered there. Last year, 37 people were diagnosed with HIV in Kurzeme, 26 – in Zemgale, 22 – in Latgale, 11 – in Vidzeme, as reported by the association.

Latvia was on 1st place among EU member states with the number of HIV patients per 100,000 residents in 2016, as well as 1st place in terms of newly-diagnosed AIDS cases. The new statistical data does not offer much hope for Latvia to improve in this area.


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