Cyprus committed to achieving UN HIV and AIDS targets by 2030, said Health Minister on World AIDS Day

Cyprus is committed to achieving the revised United Nations targets for HIV and AIDS by 2030 said Health Minister Michael Hadjipantela on Thursday, during a press conference held at the Ministry on the occasion of World AIDS Day.

In his address, the Minister of Health said that this year the global message is “equality”, a call for action to ensure universal and unhindered access to health care, but also for a personal and collective rethinking of our attitudes towards the disease, ending the stigmatisation and social marginalisation of people living with HIV.

“As the Ministry of Health, we remain committed to achieving the revised targets set by the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV and AIDS, with a 2030 implementation horizon. In this context, 95% of people living with the virus know their diagnosis, among whom 95% access and receive antiretroviral treatment, and among those on treatment, 95% achieve viral suppression. As the Ministry of Health, we remain committed to achieving the above in the light of zero stigma, universal equality and social acceptance,” he stressed.

According to Hadjipantela, for the year 2021, there were a total of 148 HIV infection diagnoses in Cyprus, of which 113 concerned primary diagnoses, while the remaining 35 were diagnoses in people with an already known history of HIV infection.

He added that for the same year it is estimated that 91.6% of HIV positive people residing in Cyprus have been diagnosed with the disease, adding that 93.7% of them had access to healthcare and are receiving antiretroviral treatment, while among those receiving antiretroviral treatment, 96.6% have achieved virological suppression.

“The Ministry of Health offers full access to antiretroviral treatment regardless of insurance coverage and nationality and provides free hospitalization and medical care for all complications related to the disease,” the Minister of Health stressed, adding that recently, by a decision of the Council of Ministers, dated August 31, 2022, the incentive plan for HIV-positive people was increased from 300 euros to 350 euros, which will be paid in December with retroactive effect.

“On the occasion of World AIDS Day, we must review our attitude towards HIV infection and work together towards a brighter future. Together we can achieve more. Together we can end the HIV pandemic,” he concluded.

Next, Infectious Disease Specialist at the Gregorios Clinic Dr. George Siakallis provided detailed statistics in relation to HIV/AIDS cases over the period between 1986 and 2021.

As he mentioned, during this period a total of 1579 HIV positive persons were diagnosed, of which 784 are Cypriots (49.7%), in 2021 148 new HIV positive cases were recorded, of which 46 are Cypriots, while in the period between January and October 2022 172 new HIV positive cases were diagnosed.

He added that in terms of gender distribution, of the 1579 total cases from 1986-2021, 1182 cases were men (74.9%) and 397 women (25.1%), adding that among the 784 Cypriot HIV-positive cases, 716 are men and 68 women (10:1 ratio), while among foreigners the ratio is 1:1 (466 men and 329 women).

Finally, the main mode of transmission, according to data from the last five years, is sexual intercourse (92%), which includes Sexual Contact Between Men (52.3%) and Heterosexual Contact (39.7%), Dr. Siakallis added.

Source: Cyprus News Agency