UNited against AIDS

Dec 1, 2014

photo: unaids

World Aids Day marked on 1 December 2014 

There are 1000 people with HIV in Croatia, of which 250 have AIDS, according to the latest data from the Croatian Public Health Institute introduced to mark World AIDS Day, December 1. With around 80 new cases of HIV infection per year, Croatia is still a country with a low prevalence of HIV/AIDS. The aim is to emphasize the importance of early diagnosis of the HIV infection to ensure successful treatment and to prevent further spread of the infection. 

AIDS
or Human immunodeficiency virus infection is a disease of the human immune system caused by an infection with the HIV virus. It is characterized by severely damaging the immune system which makes the body much more susceptible to many other diseases. It may take up to ten years from the time of infection with HIV to the time of the occurrence of the first symptoms. 

Since 1986 when the first HIV cases were registered in Croatia, until mid-November 2014, a total of 1194 people living with HIV have been registered, of which 438 living with AIDS. In the same period, 178 people died of AIDS. This year, by mid-November, 80 new cases of HIV infections were diagnosed, of which 19 of those were AIDS cases. 

Of the total number of HIV/AIDS cases, the largest number of people got infected through unprotected sexual intercourse. The risk of HIV infection increases with the amount of sexual partners, unprotected sexual intercourse with an unknown person or people with risky behavior, as well as the use of non-sterile equipment for intravenous drug injection. Men make 86 percent of all people infected with HIV. 

Although in recent years there has been a slight increase in the number of new cases of HIV infections, this can be explained by more frequent testing due to the work of centers for voluntary, free and anonymous counseling and testing (so-called HIV counseling centers) in eight cities in Croatia. 

Globally, the United Nations reported progress in combating HIV/AIDS, but warn that the gains remain fragile. 

From 2001, the number of new HIV infections in the world has been reduced by 38 percent; 1.16 million infections have been prevented among newborn babies, while almost 14 million people worldwide have access to HIV treatment. But there are 35 million people living with HIV today, and some 19 million of them do not know they have the virus. 

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called on the World Aids Day world leaders to unite to end AIDS together by 2030. 

Numerous prejudice, stigma and discrimination accompanying HIV/AIDS have major consequences for patients as well as the disease itself. Many therefore have a fear of testing which delays access to treatment, and can have a major impact on the spread of HIV infection,“ warns Iva Jovovic from the UN Theme Group on HIV/AIDS in Croatia. 

„HIV/AIDS is a disease of public health interest, and therefore we continuously monitor and report on violations of human rights of people living with HIV. We also draw attention to specific cases of HIV/AIDS, we advocate legislation changes, and educate non-governmental organizations, health professionals and citizens“, stressed Jovovic. 

The introduction of health education in schools, the possibility of HIV testing for minors over the age of 16 without a parent's permission, the legalization of same-sex marriages, as well as the improvement of the system of free legal aid in the cases of violation of the human rights of people living with HIV/AIDS are steps that would further enhance the fight against HIV/AIDS, was concluded in the UN Theme Group on HIV/AIDS.