Aids aid worried: Fewer HIV tests due to the corona pandemic

The national association of AIDS support fears a possible spread of HIV in view of poor test conditions. “Fewer people went to tests this year,” said the state manager of Aids-Hilfen, Sven Warminsky, in Magdeburg. There are various reasons for this. Among other things, the health authorities were closed or at full capacity because of the corona pandemic. Ordinarily people could get tested for HIV free of charge in the authorities, but they couldn’t have done it. In addition, many prevention offers were canceled due to the corona.

“What worries me is the next year,” said Warminsky. In view of the reduced number of tests, the number of HIV infections could rise again in 2021. According to the Robert Koch Institute, more people in Saxony-Anhalt tested positive for HIV in 2019 than in the previous year. In total, an estimated 1,100 people were living with HIV or AIDS in Saxony-Anhalt at the end of 2019. At the end of 2018 there were around 1000 affected.

“We advise everyone to come to us for the tests,” said the country manager. The contact points of the Aids-Hilfen in Halle and Magdeburg also offer free HIV tests. People could also be tested for sexually transmitted diseases there. In addition, there is the option of visiting the family doctor or buying a self-test to take at home.

Especially in view of the corona pandemic, it is important to get tested, said Warminsky. People with HIV belonged to the risk group if they were not yet receiving therapy. Therefore, it makes sense to know whether there is an infection. When the pandemic broke out in spring, there was noticeably more need for advice. In some cases, the contact points were overwhelmed.

“We have massively expanded our digital offering,” said Warminsky. In addition to advisory services by video phone call, there was also the opportunity to chat with the advisors via messenger. Response times have also been extended. In the meantime, protective screens have been built on-site and the supply of masks has been increased so that tests can be carried out in the advice centers. Aids-Hilfe bore the costs for this itself.

According to the Deutsche Aidshilfe, HIV is most often transmitted through unprotected sex or drug use. HIV therapy with drugs can suppress the virus in the body. HIV cannot then be transmitted even during sexual intercourse. An infection with HIV shows up by various symptoms like fever or rash. December 1st is World AIDS Day.

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