During the conversation festival LAMPA (transl. – a lamp) its visitors actively used the opportunity to make a free HIV test offered in tent “Bauda” (transl. – a pleasure). Within two days 119 participants at the age of 16 to 62 years made HIV rapid tests, carried out by the NGO’s “Baltic HIV Association” physicians, who in parallel with the testing provided consultations.
63% of the tent’s visitors who made rapid tests were women. 71% of all rapid tests were made by visitors with university degree or degree in progress, showing that people with higher education are especially interested on their health and HIV status.
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“We are pleasantly surprised that 62% of the festival’s visitors who chose to make the HIV test were at the age of 16 to 25 years – one of the highest risk groups in our country. In the last year, the assessment of the situation of 365 newly diagnosed patients in Latvia showed that in the majority of cases they are active young people aged 20 to 39 years” says Inga Upmace, Chairman of the board of the NGO “Baltic HIV Association and public health doctor.
HIV testing in Latvia is voluntary; it can only be done with the permission of the person being examined. HIV testing also includes pre- and post-test consultations, during which a health professional explains all HIV / AIDS related issues.
“As Latvia is in the 1st place in EU in 2016 on newly discovered HIV cases, we must actively work to inform the public about the risks of becoming infected. Thanks to the support of a number of non-governmental organizations (Dia + Log, Association HIV.LV, Papardes bloom, AGIHAS) who take care of HIV patients on a daily basis and work in the field of HIV prevention and to the pharmaceutical company’s GlaxoSmithKline Latvia financial support we were able to participate in the conversation festival’s LAMPA, to explain its audience the risks of HIV infection, how to avoid it, how to support those who have been affected” adds I. Upmace.
Tent attendants most frequently asked questions related to protection – how to protect themselves from the HIV infection; what is allowed for the HIV positive person in order not to harm the family and society, etc. During the festival, non-governmental organizations explained the visitors what social stigma is, for example, that an HIV-infected person should not work in an educational institution, that it is easy to determine that someone is infected or otherwise.
“Many visitors were surprised by the fact that HIV affects every sexually active person and being a drug user or a person with homosexual orientation is not a must. The main transmission of infection is heterosexual – each sexually active person is at the risk, even being in a stable relationship with one partner. The only way to find out your HIV status is to make a test. 2/3 of the tent visitors admitted that they have never done HIV test before which means – there is still a broad part of society that lives in stereotype that HIV does not affect them”, continues I. Upmace.
Activities in the tent “Pleasure”’ were carried out by the agency “LEAD. Corporate Communications” in cooperation with non-governmental organizations AGIHAS, Baltic HIV Association, Dia+Logs, HIV.LV, Latvian Red Cross, Papardes Zieds and Latvian Medical Students’ Association, financially supported by GlaxoSmithKline Latvia.