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continue to invest in prevention

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continue to invest in prevention

“Research has undoubtedly allowed us to make great progress, just think of the combined therapies, introduced in the mid-1990s, which have proven effective on the course of HIV infection, improving the quality of life and delaying the onset of AIDS and its most serious consequences in HIV-infected subjects. But it is above all in prevention that we must continue to invest in this as in other fields. In this perspective last April, with the green light from Aifa, the PrEP – pre-exposure prophylaxis for HIV infection – is no longer paid for but reimbursed by the National Health Service”.

These are the words of the Minister of Health Orazio Schillaci, in the opening speech of the event held at the Ministry on 1 December 2023, on the occasion of World AIDS Day. The Minister first of all thanked the associations, which have always played an essential role in the common commitment against the spread of HIV infection and will continue to find in the Ministry of Health a valid interlocutor with which to continue the synergy which over the years has always proved to be very profitable. He then thanked her the singer-songwriter Alfawho joined this initiative and became the spokesperson for a strong message, aimed above all at young people, on knowledge of HIV and the importance of prevention.

“The free Prep – added the minister – was an expected measure and it is a significant result because it represents an additional prevention tool for people who engage in high-risk sexual behavior and is a measure with a notable impact on public health. However, we must remember and communicate to citizens that prophylaxis must be prescribed by an infectious disease doctor and taken as part of a monitoring plan on the HIV infection status and any side effects. And above all that it does not protect against other sexually transmitted diseases for which we need to keep high attention with prevention and constant checks”.

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HIV continues to represent a major global public health problem and for this reason Italy actively participates in the common goal of eradicating the infection, as well as contributing significantly to the Global Fund for the Eradication of HIV, Malaria and Tuberculosis Infection. Our country is also engaged in prevention, information, research, assistance, treatment, epidemiological surveillance and support for volunteering activities, in line with the provisions of Law 135/90 for the prevention and fight against AIDS.

Every year, the Ministry of Health plans communication campaigns which address, in an in-depth manner, knowledge of the disease, prevention of contagion, promotion of testing and timely diagnosis, the quality of life of people with HIV and the fight against stigma against them. The recent campaign carried out in collaboration with the Spallanzani Institute of Infectious Diseases was aimed particularly at young people through numerous cultural and musical initiatives and events at youth meeting points during which it was possible to carry out HIV tests. Furthermore, as part of the campaign, projects were financed for associations in the reference communities to fight stigma and for greater knowledge and awareness about Prep.

The minister also recalled the support of the Higher Institute of Health which, alongside the surveillance of HIV infection, carries out research, training and telephone consultancy activities through the AIDS and Sexually Transmitted Infections Toll-Free Telephone which has been providing it in a personalized manner since 1987. and scientifically correct, information and advice also on legal matters.

According to ISS data, after more than a decade of constantly decreasing trends, a new increase in HIV incidence is observed in the two years post-Covid: 1888 new cases reported in 2022, +32% compared to 2020. However, the incidence in Italy is lower than the average observed among the European Union states (3.2 vs 5.1 new cases per 100,000). Furthermore, the tendency to take an HIV test following unprotected sexual contact decreases, while the tests performed because HIV-related symptoms are already present in people who were therefore infected several years earlier.

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