Education and testing – the biggest enemies of HIV

Nov 21, 2014


To mark the World AIDS Day, December 1, a number of organizations and institutions from Croatia, including the UN Theme group on HIV/AIDS launched a national campaign „Knowledge wins“, to underline the importance of timely HIV testing. Confidential HIV testing is available free of charge, in eight cities across Croatia. The campaign „Knowledge wins“ is part of the second European HIV testing week, which is marked from 21 to 28 November 2014

According to the Register for HIV/AIDS of the Croatian Public Health Institute, Croatia remains a country with a low prevalence of HIV/AIDS. From 1985 to the end of 2013, a total of 1106 HIV infections have been diagnosed, and in the same period there were 176 AIDS related deaths. Each year, there is an average of 60 new cases of HIV, and the most common way of HIV transmission is through unprotected sexual intercourse. Since 1997, free anti-retroviral therapy has been available to all HIV infected people in Croatia, and it is assessed as a successful according to the ratio of survival and retention in care. 

The organizers of the European HIV testing Week warn of a disturbing reality, which is that the majority of infected people are not aware of their HIV positive status. The data from the European Center for Disease Control and Prevention show that most new HIV infections are transmitted from people who don't know that they are infected, and it is estimated that at least one out of three people infected with HIV in Europe are not aware of their health status. The situation is additionally aggravated by the fact that many people don't test for HIV before the symptoms occur, which means that they can live for years with HIV, and remain unaware that they have the infection. 

Late diagnosis of the infection delays access to the therapy, further complicates it, and increases the possibility of infecting others with HIV. As opposed, most of those who had been diagnosed shortly after infection and who have received appropriate therapy can continue to live a healthy life. This considerably reduces the possibility of transmitting HIV to others. 

That is why the United Nations, health organizations and civil society organizations invite citizens to get tested because the knowledge of a seropositive status is the biggest enemy of HIV and the most important step towards a healthy and long life.

More information about the locations and times of the Centers for HIV counseling and testing can be found at the following link.

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The UN Theme Group on HIV/AIDS as a leading instrument of UN work in the area of HIV/AIDS in Croatia is continuously providing support to both governmental institutions and non-governmental organizations. It also conducts activities for co-sponsor UNAIDS with the goal of improving the battle against HIV/AIDS. The main areas of action include: assistance to the national authorities in planning and implementing the National Programme for Prevention of AIDS; efforts to promote and protect human rights; and development of monitoring and evaluation systems within the country.