< b>The commitment of Cyprus to achieve the revised goals of the United Nations for HIV and AIDS by 2030 was emphasized on Thursday by the Minister of Health, Michalis Hatzipantela, during a press conference held at the Ministry on the occasion of the World AIDS Day .
In his greeting, the Minister of Health said that this year's World AIDS Day is marked by the stagnation in achieving the goals of stopping the spread of the disease, as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and other economic and geopolitical challenges on a global scale.
As he said, according to the World Health Organization, for the year 2021, 38.4 million people were living with HIV, of which 1.5 million were new diagnoses of the disease, while 28.7 million of them had access to antiretroviral treatment.
He added that racial, economic and social disparities in access to diagnostic tests, antiretroviral treatment and clinical laboratory monitoring remain and widen, hindering efforts to end the HIV pandemic.
< p>For this year, the global message is “equality”, emphasized the Minister, adding that the message is a springboard for taking actions to ensure universal and seamless access to medical care, but also for a personal and collective review of our attitude towards the disease, ending stigmatization and the social marginalization of people living with HIV.
“As the Ministry of Health we remain committed to achieving the revised targets set by the United Nations Joint Program on HIV and AIDS, with a time horizon of implementation in 2030. In this context, 95% of people living with the virus know their diagnosis, among them 95% access and receive antiretroviral therapy, and among those on treatment 95% achieve virological suppression. As the Ministry of Health, we remain committed to achieving the above in the light of zero stigma, universal equality and social acceptance”, he emphasized.
According to Mr. Hatzipantela, for the year 2021 there were a total of 148 diagnoses of HIV infection in Cyprus, of which 113 were first diagnoses, while the remaining 35 were diagnoses in people with a known history of HIV infection.
He added that for the same year it is estimated that 91.6% of people living in Cyprus who are positive for the virus have been diagnosed with the disease, adding that 93.7% of them have been connected to medical care and are receiving antiretroviral treatment, while among those receiving antiretroviral therapy, 96.6% have achieved viral suppression.
“The Ministry of Health offers unhindered access to antiretroviral treatment regardless of insurance coverage and citizenship and provides free hospitalization and medical care for all complications related to the disease,” the Minister of Health emphasized, adding that recently by decision of the Council of Ministers, dated August 31 2022, the incentive plan for HIV-positive people increased from 300 euros to 350 euros, which will be paid on the December bills with retroactive effect.
“HIV infection is today a chronically controlled disease, with our HIV-positive fellow citizens being fully functional and integral members of our society. Together we can end the HIV virus, ending the inequalities that perpetuate it”, underlined Mr. Hatzipantela, calling on every citizen to convey a message of equality and acceptance, away from stereotypes and prejudices of the past.
” On the occasion of today, we must review our attitude towards HIV infection and together we must move towards a more auspicious future. Together we can achieve more. Together we can end the HIV pandemic”, he concluded.
Subsequently, the Infectious Disease Specialist at the Gregorio Clinic Dr. George Siakallis provided more detailed statistics in relation to the longitudinal picture of HIV/AIDS cases in the period between 1986 and 2021.
As he mentioned, during the said period a total of 1579 HIV-positive people were diagnosed, of which 784 are Cypriots (49.7%), for 2021 the number of diagnoses amounted to 148 new HIV-positive cases, of which 46 are Cypriots, while in the period between January and October 2022, 172 new HIV-positive cases were diagnosed.
He added that in terms of gender distribution, of the 1579 total incidents in the period 1986-2021, 1182 correspond to men (74.9%) and 397 to women (25.1%), adding that among the 784 HIV-positive Cypriots, 716 are men and 68 women (ratio 10:1), while among foreigners the ratio is 1:1 (466 men and 329 women).
Finally, the main mode of transmission , according to the data of the last five years, is sexual intercourse (92 %), which includes Sexual Contact Between Men (rate 52.3%) and Heterosexual Contact (39.7%), added Dr. Siakallis.