The Slovenia Times

Number of HIV Infections in Slovenia Under Control



The number is nevertheless under control owing to effective testing and prevention programmes.

Between 40 and 50 new HIV cases are detected in Slovenia every year. Data for the past decade show that the number of detected cases is increasing; in 2004 only 18 new cases were detected, while preliminary data for January-November 2014 show 43 new cases. The highest number of new HIV diagnoses was seen in 2011, when 55 new patients were diagnosed.

The trend is similar in AIDS patients, as only seven new cases of AIDS were detected in 2004 but the number has climbed to 15 in the January-November period of this year.

A total of 450 cases of HIV infection were detected in Slovenia in the last ten years, with 22 patients dying in this period, including five that died last year.

The group exposed to the greatest risk of HIV infection in Slovenia are men who have sexual intercourse with other men. A recently-presented survey on 145 HIV-infected men from this category has shown that around 40% of them were infected abroad.

The survey conducted by UKC Ljubljana hospital has found that only a third of them use condoms in oral sex and only 70% always use condoms during anal sex, which poses a grater risk of infection compared to oral sex.

The share of infected pregnant women in the total number of HIV-infected persons in Slovenia is low. In 2011, only two out of the 7,231 tested pregnant women were infected. This was also the first time since 1993 that the number of HIV-infected pregnant women exceed one a year.

According to the National Public Health Institute, no HIV infections were detected among the 9,574 pregnant women who underwent anonymous HIV testing last year.

The last case in which HIV was transferred from the mother to the baby was reported in 2011, in what was the first such case since 2004. Only three children in Slovenia are currently HIV positive.

While HIV infection among intravenous drug users is still a large problem in certain parts of the world, such cases in Slovenia are few and far between. Last year, a total of 114 drug addicts were anonymously tested for HIV and all came out negative.

Only one such case was detected in 2012, the first since 2001. Three more cases were detected in the following year, and all three infected persons said that they also did drugs abroad, according to the institute.

According to infectologists, more than 90% of patients infected with HIV virus in Slovenia are well informed and are following strict treatment programmes.

NGOs play an important role in the prevention of HIV infections in Slovenia by carrying out community-based testing and providing psychosocial aid to the patients.

Unfortunately, implementation of such programmes is at risk due to the lack of funds, according to Miha Lobnik of the Legebitra gay and lesbian rights association, which implements community-based testing programmes.

The programmes carried out by Legebitra focus on Slovenia's most vulnerable group - men who have sex with other men. Between 400 and 500 tests in the target group are carried out annually, which is a success considering the low overall testing rate in the country, according to Lobnik.

According to the association, one of the biggest problems is access to dermatovenerology clinics providing high-quality tests for all sexually transmitted diseases. Patients can go to these clinics only on the basis of a referral from their personal physician, Lobnik explained.

More than half of HIV infections in Slovenia are detected in a late phase, when the patient already needs to take antiretroviral drugs, while a quarter of newly-detected cases are patients who already have AIDS, statistics from the Public Health Institute show.

Irena Klavs of the institute has warned that while the trend of late detection of HIV infection was decreasing in the EU on average, this was not the case in Slovenia.

World AIDS Day is observed on 1 December in order to raise awareness of the AIDS pandemic caused by the spread of HIV infection. The day was declared in 1987 by the Global Programme on AIDS of the World Health Organization.

According to the United Nations, around 1.5 million AIDS-related deaths are still registered every year. There were a total of 35 million HIV infected people in the world in 2013, when 2.1 million new cases were detected. Sub-Saharan Africa accounts for 70% of all new cases.


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