Almost every day – a new HIV patient is registered in Latvia

In the first half of 2017, 149 new HIV positive cases have been registered in Latvia which means that almost every day someone in Latvia receives positive HIV test response, according to the latest data of The Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (hereinafter – CDPC) of Latvia. Comparing to the previous year, the number of new HIV cases has slightly decreased, but specialists still do not see it as a long-term positive trend and link the decrease to the testing activities and the decrease of the population in Latvia.

In the first half of the year there have been149 new HIV cases registered in Latvia which is slightly less than in the first half of 2016 (157 cases). There has also been a decrease in the number of new AIDS cases – 39 new cases registered in the first five months of 2017 (114 cases in 2016 in total).

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“The latest HIV and AIDS statistics are controversial: the number of new HIV cases is statistically decreasing, but it’s clear to professionals in this area that this does not mean a reduction in the number of infections in real life. We need to take into account both the declining population and still low level of testing activities which means more undiagnosed patients. And we also need to keep in mind Latvia’s negative tendency – delayed start of treatment which unfortunately creates a high potential for further spread of HIV infection”, says Inga Upmace, Chairman of the board of NGO” Baltic HIV Association”.

As of the end of last year several non-governmental organizations working in the field of HIV, including NGOs “Baltic HIV Association” and “AGIHAS”, actively informed society about HIV situation in Latvia and invited to make a HIV test at least once a year, as this is the only way to find out person’s HIV status. Responsiveness of the society was high and as a result there was 15% increase of HIV tests made in the 2015. Baltic HIV Association’s collected data from the two largest Latvian laboratories shows that the testing activity continues to grow also in the first half of 2017.

“Non-governmental organizations are constantly working in the HIV field, but we also are having high expectations for the State’s HIV / AIDS Action Plan for 2018-2020, developed by the Ministry of Health. It involves both – informative activities and early treatment for HIV patients which is very important step in reducing the infection”, says Inga Upmace.

According to the CDPC data, there is still a high level of registered HIV cases with unclear way of transmission. During the first four months of this year this number has reached to 32%. As to the identified HIV cases, the majority of them – 59 % – are sexually transmitted. This trend approves specialists’ warning – HIV patients have changed, they no longer represent a limited group of people; they may be anyone, including heterosexual people with good education, work and also family people. But there is also a positive tendency – transmission of HIV from mother to child has decreased significantly – only 1 case on this year (6 cases in 2016).

Sadly, Latvia holds 1st place in the European Union on the newly discovered HIV cases per 100 000 inhabitants, as well as 1st place in the EU on the newly discovered AIDS cases. Since the first HIV patient was registered in Latvia, a total of 7121 HIV positive person has been registered, 5368 of them are alive. But the World Health Organization estimates show that the true number of infected people in Latvia could be at least twice as high, thus around 10 thousand.

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