Turkey is Successful in Accessing and Treating HIV Treatment, but Behind the Targets in Testing and Diagnosis

Access to HIV Treatment and Successful Testing and Diagnosis in Turkey Behind Targets
Turkey is Successful in Accessing and Treating HIV Treatment, but Behind the Targets in Testing and Diagnosis

“After COVID-19 HIV Policies Report” has been published to evaluate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the spread of HIV infection and the implementation of HIV/AIDS policies in Turkey.

The report, which also offers solutions to prevent the spread of HIV in Turkey, was prepared by the IQVIA research company with the unconditional support of Gilead and the contributions of non-governmental organizations and specialist physicians operating in the field of HIV/AIDS.

HIV infection, which was defined for the first time in the world in the 1980s, was first seen in Turkey in 1985 and turned into a worldwide epidemic in the 1990s. HIV, which has been brought under control thanks to the development of effective antiviral treatments and effective steps taken globally, is now a treatable chronic disease. In other words, individuals living with HIV can continue their work, school, life with regular treatment and even have children naturally.

The Post-COVID-19 HIV Policies Report contains striking data on the spread of HIV and the number of cases in the world and in Turkey. While the annual number of new HIV cases in many countries has remained stable or has started to decline in the last 10 years, Turkey ranks at the top of the world in the annual increase in the number of new cases. HIV cases have increased 10 times in the last 8 years in Turkey. As of February 1, 2022, the number of new HIV/AIDS cases reported was 2019 for 4.153, while the total number of cases for 1985-2021 exceeded 32.000. On the other hand, in scientific models, it is estimated that the number of infected individuals in Turkey is at least twice as high with undetected cases. Considering the decrease in applications to health institutions and diagnostic centers due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it is estimated that HIV infection maintains its pre-pandemic rate during the COVID-19 period.

According to the report, while the age range of 25-34 has the largest share among all cases (1985% between 2018-35,4), the share of the 20-24 age group in new cases has increased in recent years. According to the predictions in the report, it is estimated that HIV cases in Turkey will reach more serious levels if necessary precautions are not taken.

It is assumed that high case numbers can be prevented by 40 if the rate of knowing HIV positive status, which is currently estimated at around 90%, is increased to 2040%.

The main reasons for the increase in cases in Turkey are the low level of knowledge and awareness about the transmission routes of the disease, preventive and preventive treatment methods in Turkey, the decrease in applications to health institutions and diagnosis/test centers due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the fear of stigma and discrimination being tested. withdrawal is included.

Physician workshop member who contributed to the preparation of the report, Ege University HIV/AIDS Research and Application Center (EGEHAUM) director Prof. Dr. Deniz Gökengin said, “The fight against HIV/AIDS has been included in Turkey's 2019-2023 Strategic Plan targets, and an HIV/AIDS Control Program has been established by the Ministry of Health in 2019, and a comprehensive action plan has been put forward in order to control the spread of HIV infection. However, the pandemic has negatively affected the fight against HIV/AIDS, as it does all health initiatives. Despite the decrease in the cases diagnosed during this period, the continued risk of transmission necessitates the prioritization of some actions by re-evaluating the previously determined action plan. Among the priority policy recommendations in the report we prepared are the following: Applying HIV testing to indicator diseases, expanding anonymous test centers promptly and facilitating access to these centers, taking the necessary measures to facilitate access to HIV tests and treatment in future disasters, establishing a remote counseling system, and uninterrupted outpatient clinics for HIV and similar indications that require regular follow-up. maintaining, implementing do-it-yourself testing, and expanding access to prevention methods”.

Physicians note that UNAIDS has updated its previously determined 90-90-90 diagnosis-treatment-viral suppression targets to 95-95-95 in order to end the worldwide AIDS epidemic. Accordingly, by 2030, it is aimed that 95% of individuals living with HIV will be diagnosed, 95% of diagnosed individuals will be under treatment, and 95% of individuals receiving treatment will have a suppressed viral load. It is estimated that Turkey is close to these targets in terms of access to treatment and treatment success, but falls far behind the target in the field of diagnosis.

Pointing out that the number of newly diagnosed individuals will be higher than expected in the future, Çukurova University Faculty of Medicine Department of Infectious Diseases and Clinical Microbiology Head Prof. Dr. Yeşim Taşova said, “In Turkey, HIV awareness is still at very low levels. It is necessary to spread the knowledge that transmission can be prevented with effective prevention methods and that those living with HIV can continue their lives as healthy individuals with regular treatment. It is of great importance in the fight against HIV to eliminate prejudices about HIV/AIDS in the whole society, to have the necessary knowledge and awareness of all health institutions and their employees, and to increase anonymous test centers. We believe that the implementation of the recommendations set forth in this report, which was prepared with the contributions of leading physicians and non-governmental organizations in the field of HIV, with the cooperation of all stakeholders, will make an important contribution to the realization of the action plan of the Ministry of Health.”

Günceleme: 27/11/2022 12:53

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