Measures needed to tackle rise in HIV infections

Malta has inadequate measures to address the continued rise in HIV infections, the Malta Gay Rights Movement (MGRM) and Allied Rainbow Communities (ARC) said in a statement today to mark World Aids Day.

They said reported HIV infections have been increasing by 20% each year since 2009. There were 189 heterosexuals and 143 men who had sex with men living with HIV as at December 2015. Forty four new cases of HIV as well as two cases of Aids were notified by the end of August 2016.

“Unless concrete and effective measures to interrupt this trend are introduced the number of those living with HIV will potentially increase to 2000 people requiring treatment within the next five years at significant cost to Malta’s health care system,” the NGOs said. 

They said that rapid testing and self-administered home testing should be made more widely available in order to achieve the target of 90% (set by UNAIDS) of HIV+ persons knowing their status;

The current outdated anti-retroviral treatment protocol should be replace with one that is more effective, having less side-effects and more likely to ensure adherence and the attainment of undetectable viral loads, thus eliminating the risk of HIV transmission.

The two organisations called for  targeted awareness-raising campaigns aimed at increasing the rate of those coming forward for testing and ensuring that infected persons were able to access treatment as early as possible.

Furthermore, newly-diagnosed persons should have access to psychological services should they request this support.