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Estonian government seeks to bring new HIV cases down to below 100 annually

Truvada is an antiretroviral medication used to treat and prevent HIV.
Truvada is an antiretroviral medication used to treat and prevent HIV. Source: (AFP/Scanpix)

A national action plan on HIV drafted by the Ministry of Social Affairs and the National Institute for Health Development (NIHD) seeks to more than halve the annual number of new HIV cases by 2025.

Describing the goal as ambitious yet accomplishable, Minister of Health and Labour Jevgeni Ossinovski said at a meeting of the Social Affairs Committee of the Riigikogu that if treatment guidelines are properly observed, modern medicines enable to push the level of the virus in the carrier's body so low that the possibility of further spread of the virus is very small.

"First of all, we need to take common responsibility nationwide so that, for instance, the Estonian education system, in addition to the healthcare sector, also makes a strong contribution to putting a stop to the spread of HIV," spokespeople quoted the minister as saying. "Each prevented case of infection, but also early detection of infected persons and getting them to treatment, is a victory."

The action plan, which is due to be finalized by summer, sets out actions in five areas: prevention and raising of awareness, early detection and getting infected persons to treatment, services to control damage, treatment of people diagnosed as infected with HIV or having AIDS, and support services. "Plans include, for instance, including HIV express tests in the list of services financed by the Health Insurance Fund, increasing awareness of healthcare and social workers about HIV as well as increasing the availability of treatment and damage control services," the minister said.

These actions will seek to pursue the so-called 90-90-90 strategy of the World Health Organization (WHO). A concept introduced by the United Nations' program on HIV/AIDS in 2013, the idea behind the strategy is that by 2020, 90 percent of people who are HIV infected will be diagnosed, 90 percent of people who are diagnosed will be on antiretroviral treatment and 90 percent of those who receive antiretrovirals will be virally suppressed.

Estonia's national action plan on HIV for 2017-2025 is to be presented to the government by June this year.

Currently, more than 200 new people are diagnosed as infected with HIV in Estonia annually.

Editor: Aili Vahtla

Source: BNS

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