Over the course of the past several years, the proportion of HIV/AIDS infected residents in Latvia has become close to Estonia, whose government UK, Finland and USA urged to admit the presence of HIV epidemic in the country at the beginning of the year. Countries also recommended forming a special committee to resolve the problem with this infection more actively.
A report from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control and World Health Organization states that the average HIV infection rate in the European Union/ European Economic Area is nearly 6 cases per 100,000 residents. In Latvia, this ratio is 17 cases per 100,000 residents. There has been an increase in the number of AIDS cases in Latvia as well. According to information from the aforementioned institutions, the average AIDS infection rate in EU/EEA member states is 0.8 cases per 100,000 (8.5 cases per 100,000 residents in Latvia), as reported by AGIHAS.
The good news is that, compared with the entire post-crisis period, when Latvia remained one of the few EU member states where HIV patients were treated very late and not in accordance with international and World Health Organization’s recommendations, Latvia now offers more modern HIV treatment methods, adds the association.
Andris Veikenieks, head of AGIHAS, says «additional funding allocated for antiretroviral medicine will secure better treatment results to patients and more rational use of the healthcare budget’s funds. Estimates suggest it will help save EUR 5.23 million in a long-term perspective. Treatment launched early helps significantly reduce the virus’ hold in the organism and thereby limit the spread of infection in the organism. We cannot stop here, though. Considering the progress and developing trends with HIV infection rates, accessibility of HIV treatment at an early stage plays an even greater role – it is demonstrates in international recommendations as well. It is in accordance with those recommendations that it is necessary to begin treatment once the number of CD4 cells drops to 500 mm2.»
HIV in Latvia was diagnosed for 393 residents in 2015. This includes three newborns. In total, there are 6,607 HIV infection cases registered in the country. 671 of them are on AIDS stage. «The real infection rates are much more severe – estimates suggest the real number of HIV patients is at least twice as big. This is because people are influenced by certain stereotypes that prevent them from asking for help or even informing their relatives about having the disease,» – states the society.
«In order to reduce the rapid spread of HIV infection, which may reach a level of an epidemic in the future and thereby cause massive losses to the state, the association urges legislators of the Republic of Latvia and the government to continue improving treatment methods for HIV/AIDS patients and work on introducing products to replace mother’s milk and add that to a state funded programme. It would not only improve statistics, according to which Latvia is an EU member state with the largest number of HIV children (66 HIV-positive children on record and 73 births of HIV-infected children in 2015), but also rationalize HIV patient care costs,» – concludes the association.