40 years of AIDS – 40 years of discrimination

For almost two years, the coronavirus has been in the sun in all discussions, while the HI virus and its secondary disease, AIDS, are in the shadows. According to Michael Ganz, director of the “Sexuelle Gesundheit Aargau” association, the HIV virus has actually been more out of focus since the beginning of the pandemic. On the other hand, it is gratifying that most people now know how to protect themselves from viruses and how to prevent infection. Even if corona and HI viruses are of course not transmitted in the same way. The current situation is therefore a two-sided coin.

HIV infections declining

In fact, there was a further decline in the number of HIV diagnoses reported to the Federal Office of Public Health (BAG) in 2020. For the first time since the beginning of the HIV epidemic in the early 1980s, fewer than 300 cases were reported to the FOPH, namely 290. In the 1990s, the average was 1,300 cases per year. One of the main reasons for this decline is a sustainable “HIV cascade” in which almost all people with HIV know their status and are quickly and effectively treated so that they do not pass the virus on, writes Aids-Hilfe Schweiz in a media release. This decline would continue to this day. 93% of all people living with HIV in Switzerland in 2020 have received a corresponding diagnosis and are therefore aware of their infection. 98% of those diagnosed with HIV received drug therapy for HIV and 96% of those with HIV therapy had a viral load below the detection limit. With these values ​​in the so-called HIV cascade of the United Nations Program on HIV / AIDS (UNAIDS), Switzerland takes a top position in the fight against the spread of the HIV virus, writes Aids-Hilfe Schweiz.

Discrimination still present today

Nevertheless, irrational fears of infection are still present in society today. «Since the spread of the coronavirus, we have been receiving more inquiries about the risk of infection in everyday situations, for example in the tram or at the hairdresser’s. Although HIV-positive people can no longer transmit the virus under successful therapy, this knowledge has not yet reached the broader population », says Andreas Lehner, managing director of Aids-Hilfe Schweiz. The awareness-raising and educational work in the population must therefore be continued.

New HIV infections in Switzerland have been falling for years, but the discrimination against people with HIV reported to Swiss AIDS Federation remains stable at a high level. This affects all areas of social life: be it work, medicine or insurance. This year’s campaign by Swiss AIDS Federation for World AIDS Day on December 1st therefore focuses on discrimination against people with HIV in the workplace.

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