The number of people contracting HIV infection continues to decrease in Emilia-Romagna: in the last 16 years the trend has been steadily decreasing for both men and women, with new diagnoses more than halved, going from 368 from 2006 to 175 in 2021. However, the percentage of those who arrive at a late diagnosis remains high: 57%.
This is confirmed by the data from the latest report edited by the regional councilorship for health policies. “In Emilia-Romagna – Councilor Raffaele Donini underlines – the declining trend of HIV infections confirms the commitment of public health and the great work of the associations. However, these data should not make us let our guard down, because the percentage of those who discover late that they have contracted the virus is still high. For this we must continue to raise people’s awareness, promote the use of the test and ensure that awareness of the risks increases, overcoming stereotypes and prejudices”.
Also with this objective, on the occasion of World AIDS Day which takes place on Thursday 1 December, the Region is promoting three webinars organized by helpAids, with health professionals and representatives of associations to discuss prevention and health (two are scheduled for Thursday 1 December at 10 and 14, the third Monday 5 December at 15; program and registration are available at the link: https://www.helpaids.it/webinar2022). And there are numerous initiatives that healthcare and hospital companies promote throughout the territory to raise awareness among citizens, also carried out in collaboration with associations, local bodies, schools and pharmacies (program attached).
And precisely to strengthen the network of all the subjects involved, the Regional Council recently renewed the Technical-Scientific Consultative Commission for interventions to prevent and fight against AIDS, made up of 18 experts of various professionalism from the disciplines involved in prevention, care and assistance of HIV-positive people and the world of regional volunteering. Cristina Mussini, ordinary professor of Infectious Diseases at the University of Modena and Reggio Emilia and director of the Complex Structure of Infectious Diseases of the Modena University Hospital was appointed to preside.
L’Hiv in Emilia-Romagna
In Emilia-Romagna in 2021, 175 new diagnoses of HIV infections were recorded in residents, with an incidence of 3.9 cases per 100,000 inhabitants; incidence that remains higher in males (6.4 compared to 1.5 in females).
In the period 2006-2021, according to data from the Collective Prevention and Public Health Sector of the Emilia-Romagna Region, the average incidence was 7.0 cases per 100,000 inhabitants: the trend is decreasing in both sexes. The only slight increase was recorded in 2021, compared to 145 diagnoses in 2020: the hypothesis is that diagnoses not carried out the previous year due to the pandemic have been recovered, but only future data will be able to confirm this.
In the entire period considered, HIV-positive people diagnosed with sThey are predominantly male (74%), in the 30-39 age group (31%) and of Italian nationality (68%). The main mode of transmission appears to be sexual in 88% of cases (52% heterosexual and 36% homo-bisexual); in particular, in 2021, homo-bisexual transmission is higher than heterosexual transmission (47% and 43% respectively). In almost a fifth of the cases (19%) of female sex, the seropositivity was discovered during pregnancy; in general these are foreign women (84%).
An early diagnosis of HIV infection allows effective treatments to be activated promptly. In 2006-21, more than half (52%) of people were already infected with AIDS, or in a very advanced stage, at the time of their HIV diagnosis. In 2021, this share is 57%.
The incidence by age group shows that those between 20 and 49 years of age are most affected: the phenomenon is barely detectable for the very young under 20 and of lesser impact in the over-50s. Foreign people diagnosed with HIV infection represent just under a third (32%) of the total: they are significantly younger than Italians and predominantly female. The incidence of foreigners shows a constantly higher trend than that of Italians, even if the difference has reduced over time.
In 2021, there were 47 new AIDS cases among residents of Emilia-Romagna. The two-year incidence 2020-21 (more stable, given the low number) is equal to 1.0 cases per 100,000 inhabitants. Since 1996, the year of introduction of antiretroviral therapies (ARV), a sharp drop in diagnoses and deaths has been observed, with a progressive increase in the number of people living with a diagnosis of AIDS.
Data by province
The new HIV diagnoses in 2021 were 50 in Bologna (with an incidence of 4.9 cases per hundred thousand inhabitants), 22 in Rimini (incidence 6.5), 20 in Reggio Emilia (incidence 3.8) and in Modena ( incidence 2.8), 19 in Parma (incidence 4.2), 12 in Ferrara (incidence 3.5) and in Forlì-Cesena (incidence 3.0), 10 in Piacenza (incidence 3.5) and in Ravenna (incidence 2.6).
Prevention with social media, collaboration with Medmaki
Short informative videos on the Instagram and TikTok @Medmaki accounts to inform young people on issues related to the prevention of Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs), providing information on anti-HIV therapies and PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis). helpAids.it has started a collaboration with Medmaki, one of the most followed science accounts by the very young.