HIV prevention, treatment to receive additional €5 million
The national budget strategy for 2018-2021 approved by the Estonian government sets aside an additional €5 million for HIV and AIDS medications and €500,000 for services related to HIV and AIDS.
Minister of Health and Labor Jevgeni Ossinovski said in his comments released on Monday that HIV prevention is one of the priorities of the government's public health policy and that the government has put prevention seriously in its focus.
He said that the extra €500,000 for services will be added from 2018 and is part of a plan to more than halve the annual number of new HIV cases by 2025 — currently to fewer than 100 cases. "This is an ambitious yet accomplishable goal," the minister said.
Beginning next year, funding for HIV and AIDS medication will increase by €5 million to €15 million.
In order to make prevention of HIV and AIDS more effective, a national action plan on HIV and AIDS for 2017-2025 will be completed by this summer. The minister described antiretroviral (ARV) therapy as having an important role in halting the spread of HIV, as with quality treatment the level of infection in the body can be brought below the infectious level.
"Thus, it is possible medically to stop the spread of HIV if we manage to have all HIV-positive people undergo consistent therapy," Ossinovski said.
Where in 2015, 3,214 people were on ARV treatment in Estonia, 4,222 people are receiving treatment in 2017 and the number of people receiving such treatment is forecast to reach 4,722 in 2018.
The actions seek to pursue the 90-90-90 strategy of the World Health Organization (WHO). A concept introduced by the UN's program on HIV/AIDS in 2013, 90-90-90 is a set of goals the idea behind which 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.
Editor: Aili Vahtla