The trend of HIV infections has been steadily decreasing since 2012 but there is one figure that continues to remain high, that of infections among the youngest. This is confirmed by the AIDS Operations Center (COA) of the Istituto Superiore di Sanità which, on the eve of World HIV/AIDS Day, publishes the update of national surveillance: the highest incidence is between 30 and 39 years of age, followed by the age group yes age 25-29 years. A hard core also caused by the less information that has been made about the virus in recent years. “There is less and less talk about HIV and this has a serious impact on the spread of the virus because many of the people who get infected, and especially young people, get infected completely unconsciously, without having any perception of the risk of contracting the infection” , he has declared Andrew Gori, Director of the Infectious Diseases Operative Unit at the Luigi Sacco Hospital in Milan and president of Anlaids Lombardia. “Fortunately, today we have therapies capable of controlling the infection and which greatly reduce mortality, but this should not lead to letting our guard down”.
BuzzKill, an animation against HIV. To remind you that it is possible to avoid transmission
Don’t let your guard down and thus break down the stigma and misinformation that still surround HIV infection is the goal of the #cHIVuoleconoscere project, promoted by the Emmaus Community Association of Bergamo and implemented thanks to the Gilead Sciences Community Award Program: a series of interventions of information dedicated to school children in the province of Bergamo which was followed by a contest for the best poster or multimedia product. “Together with the kids we talked about risk perception, prevention, tests, the social and cultural aspects related to overcoming fear and prejudice, the concept of U=U”, he explained Paolo Meli, pedagogist, of the Emmaus Community Association of Bergamo. “And then we asked them to make products for their peers who speak in the language of young people. When we go to schools we always find a great audience and interest in those who speak to children in a simple and direct way, without prejudice”.
It is essential to talk and make tests more accessible in order to verify the presence of the infection and interrupt the chain of infections. Another alarming figure among those released by the ISS concerns the constant increase since 2015 in the number of people diagnosed with HIV late in life: 63% of those who discover they are HIV positive do so at an advanced stage. Diagnosis today, however, is less scary thanks to the effectiveness of therapies that allow the infection to be kept under control and the viral load to zero.
A safer sail, the winning animation of the #cHIVuoleconoscere 2.0 competition for the fight against HIV
In English this translates into the equation U=U, or Undetectable = Untransmittable, undetectable, non-transmittable. “U=U is a huge step forward in the history of HIV infection, because it allows people living with HIV to have an absolutely normal social, relationship and intimacy life and above all because it takes away from social stigma its raison d’ to be – says Gori. The stigma arises from the lack of knowledge: it is our duty to take the concept of U=U as much as possible outside the clinical fields. We need to spread this information so that people living with HIV can take back their lives and make them better. But above all we must tell society that a person with zero replication of the virus thanks to therapy does not transmit the infection”.
HIV, Undetactable=Untrasmittable, the stop-motion work for the #cHIVuoleconoscere 2.0 campaign
There are many therapeutic innovations that have transformed the lives of people with HIV infection over the last few decades: compared to the burden of dozens of pills to be taken every day that weighed heavily on the daily lives of HIV positive people in the 1990s, we have moved on to the possibility to take smaller tablets that include three medicines once a day. “Among the many therapies we can rely on, the three-drug therapy is certainly effective, safe and tolerable in the long term, even for the most difficult cases of patients – he concludes John DiPerri, director of the Infectious Diseases Clinic of the University of Turin and adviser to the Italian Society of Infectious and Tropical Diseases -. This is an extremely robust regimen over time, it is the culmination of the research and development movement of antiretroviral therapy”.