On the occasion of World Aids Day 2016, MGRM and ARC would like to express their concern at the lack of adequate measures to address the continued rise in HIV infections which has been increasing by 20% each year since 2009. There were 189 heterosexuals and 143 men who have sex with men (MSM) living with HIV as at December 2015. Forty four (44) new cases of HIV as well as 2 cases of AIDS were notified by the end of August 2016.
Unless concrete and effective measures to interrupt this trend are introduced the number of those living with HIV will potentially increase to 2000 people requiring treatment within the next five years at significant cost to Malta’s health care system.
ARC and MGRM are advocating for the following measures to be introduced:
- Making rapid testing and self-administered home testing widely available in order to achieve the target of 90% (set by UNAIDS) of HIV+ persons knowing their status;
- Replacing the current outdated anti-retroviral treatment protocol with one that is more effective, having less side-effects and more likely to ensure adherence and the attainment of undetectable viral loads, thus eliminating the risk of HIV transmission;
- The provision of PrEP and PEP through the national health service given their proven effectiveness in reducing infection/transmission rates;
- Conducting targeted awareness raising campaigns aimed at increasing the rate of those coming forward for testing and ensuring that infected persons are able to access treatment as early as possible;
- Ensuring that newly diagnosed persons have access to psychological services should they request this support.
This is not only the path that is most respectful of the human rights of HIV+ persons and the one leading to better health outcomes. It is also the one that is most cost effective in the long term and offers the best hope for current children to grow up as an AIDS free generation.
Gabi Calleja Coordinator MGRM Russell Sammut Public Relations ARC