AIDS, the alarm of the WHO: late diagnosis for one in two European women


DIAGNOSIS OF AIDS is late for one in two European women. To say it is the data released by the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (Ecdc) and by the Regional Office of the World Health Organization (WHO) for Europe. According to the data of 2018, in the 53 countries of the European region there were over 140 thousand new diagnoses of HIV infection, of which more than 26 thousand in the EU. Feeding HIV in Europe is a persistent problem of late diagnosis that characterizes 54% of known cases among women. Data in line with those of the last Report of the Istituto Superiore di Sanita: even if for the first time there is a decrease of about 20% of new diagnoses, last year 57% of people discovered they were HIV-positive many years after being infected and it is estimated that around 15 thousand people have contracted the HIV virus without knowing it. This is because today AIDS is no longer feared as young people consider it a treatable disease. Photographing the level of knowledge of the Millennials is a research carried out on 5534 boys – between 11 and 25 years – by with the unconditional support of Msd Italia, on the occasion of World AIDS Day.

Still misinformation and prejudice among young people

Although the term HIV is often associated with words like disease and fear, misinformation is still high among the young Millennials and those of Generation Z born between the late 1990s and 2000. One of the hardest false beliefs to break down is the not accepting that the HIV virus can infect everyone, regardless of lifestyle: only 68% of the sample is aware of this. While almost 1 in 3 associates the risk of contracting the disease with certain behaviors: relationships with many partners, drug addiction and homosexuality.Also read: "Let's break the silence about HIV to stop the infections"

The stigma struggles to disappear

Typical prejudices of the 1980s that still find it difficult to disappear, as well as the stigma with which HIV-positive people are branded: only 54% of them are not dangerous to live alongside an AIDS patient. 46%, on the contrary, believe that it is enough to share with them the same spaces and interests to expose themselves to infection: for 14% using the same cutlery and glasses, for 9% using the same towel, for 6% one is enough sneeze or cough of the patient, 3% doing sport together. A further 14% even believe that any kind of contact with a person with HIV can carry the virus.

The older ones know more

The more you grow, the more you prepare the children. Young adults (19-25) are the most informed and aware. Adolescents (14-18) are divided between those who are well prepared and those who are struggling a little. The pre-adolescents (11-13) are the most fasting. Unfortunately, in the ranking of the sources from which our young people received the most information, at the top there are the least scientific ones: internet and school (which appear in the preferences of 39% of the sample), followed by TV (26%). Relegated to 11% doctors and specialists. Only half of the sample talked about HIV and AIDS in the classroom and about 6 out of 10 boys learned details they did not know before. 46% (with the usual peak in the 19-25 age group) know that HIV is the virus that causes the disease.

Confusion over transmission methods

On average only 28% lists all the possibilities (blood, semen and vaginal secretions, mother-child passage). On the other hand, knowledge of the link between sexual habits and the risk of contracting the disease is very high: 60% rightly say that using condoms hardly runs into danger; just 11% indicate false myths (they risk only those who have homosexual or occasional relationships, those who are not attentive to personal hygiene, those who go to bed with unknown people). Furthermore, 51% know that HIV can also be contracted by practicing oral sex, if you do not protect yourself sufficiently. 73% that only one report is enough to get infected.

How much do they know about the test

Only 1 in 2 knows that the HIV virus can only be diagnosed through a specific test; 32% think it is traceable by routine analysis; 18% that a careful medical examination is sufficient. Same proportions if you ask children when it is advisable to take the test: 50% should be done every time you have a risky relationship, but 44% would limit it only when you have relationships with people whose habits are unknown sexual. Very few (23%) know that the test is free at public facilities; 15% believe it is always free, 11% which is always paid (and very expensive).

A Podcast to "raise the voice" throughout the year

In short, there is no doubt that today's children know little about it and consequently have a threshold of attention towards this disease which still makes victims much lower. Precisely with the aim of returning to "making noise" on these issues Associations Nadir, Nps and Plus, with the unconditional support of Msd Italia and the scientific supervision of Italian Society of Infectious and Tropical Diseases (Simit), have devised a podcast in 3 episodes entitled "HIV at the time of silence". It is not a documentary, it is not a 'lesson', but a story made directly by the protagonists led by the extraordinary voice of Pino Insegno. "The younger people who belong to the so-called key populations, those where the possibility of infection is higher, have not directly seen the death and suffering that the disease is capable of causing," he explains. Massimo Galli, Professor of Infectious Diseases at the University of Milan and Past President of the SIMIT. "And often the" so much case there is no cure "can become misleading, leading them to use less attention in relationships. Instead it is important to return to talking about HIV in all its current relevance of infection still able to be transmitted, in Italy, to at least seven people every day ”.

Stories of love and of people who age

The podcast episodes can be listened to or downloaded on the website In the first episode, together with Massimo Galli, Miki Formisano, vice president of NPS Italia onlus and his partner Marilena, give life to an episode dedicated to the theme of love. In the second episode, Filippo von Schloesser, president of the non-profit Nadir Association, speaks of an ageless quality of life, testifying that today we are HIV-positive, white-haired, who thanks to therapies have chronicled the disease. The third episode takes us back to the 2000s when AIDS no longer dies and if you follow an effective therapy you are no longer contagious. Sandro Mattioli, president of PLUS LGBT Persons HIV-positive onlus e Giulio Maria Corbelli, vice president of PLUS, tell of how the perception of the virus has changed in these years among males having sex with males.

The MSF Report "There is no time to lose"

Hundreds of thousands of people in the world continue to die of HIV infection at an advanced clinical stage because many countries are still unprepared to diagnose and treat people suffering from the consequences of this disease. The new report by Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), "There is no time to lose" addresses the situation in 15 countries in Africa and Asia, analyzing health policies and funds allocated to combat advanced HIV that killed 770,000 in 2018 people, including 100,000 children, all over the world. MSF has found that rapid tests are almost never available at the community level, although early diagnosis can save many lives. More than two-thirds of patients with advanced HIV treated in the Nsaje hospital in Malawi, supported by MSF, arrived already seriously ill and had previously started antiretroviral therapy by stopping it. In the MSF hospital in Kinshasa, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, this figure reaches 71%. Of these patients more than one in four will die because the disease was too advanced at the time of their arrival in the hospital. All these deaths could be avoided. Since MSF made rapid tests available in health centers in the Nsanje district, the number of hospital deaths has decreased from 27% to 15%.

The initiatives of the Ministry of Health

For World AIDS Day on Sunday 1 December, the Minister of Health Roberto Speranza will light the extraordinary lighting provided for the Colosseum at 17.30. For the occasion, the Ministry of Health has planned a communication campaign to raise public awareness. The planned initiatives include a collaboration with the well-known X Factor broadcast of Sky, social messages on Ministry profiles and communication through the institutional website, which for three days will be colored symbolically in red.

"The Republic will always fight in defense of freedom of information, for its readers and for all those who care about the principles of democracy and civil society"
Carlo Verdelli

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