Sifilis, hepatitis b, Gonococcal disease or Chlamydia. The resurgence of STIs (sexually transmitted infections) in recent years, betrayed a certain “Relaxation of behavior” which exposes dangerously to the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). “We must not wait for an upsurge in HIV, which seems less contagious than other STIs and which arrives a little out of time, to react” summarizes Lam Nguyen referring physician for Agir contre le SIDA. The association knows it, anticipating World AIDS Day on December 2 in order to call out on the need to reverse the trend ” before it’s too late “. “We must continue the work in the field, not to lower our guard” intervenes the honorary president, Mayor Bopp Dupont.
Young people are particularly affected, with an incidence rate in 15-24 year olds of 12.5 per 100,000 inhabitants. Data from the Center for Infectious and Tropical Diseases at the CHPF show that in 2018, “76.5% of young subjects use little or no condoms during sexual intercourse. “ In addition, their access to digital technology seems to have an impact. “The meetings are more abundant, faster, the new generations have more facility to have new partners, whereas before we did not have an interface which allowed human contacts a little more on the chain” analyzes the doctor.
Cases of congenital syphilis in children
The number of cases of syphilis is particularly striking, now also affecting pregnant women. But that’s not all. “We started to see congenital syphilis in children when we have not seen any for almost 25 years, but also in blood donors” alert the doctor. “If the prevalence of HIV in the population is low, it will take time to start, develops the doctor. From 1985 to today, 420 cases of HIV infection have been reported, 105 of which are in the AIDS stage.
Proof that Polynesia is not spared by the disease, 92 people have died, including three recently: a 32-year-old young woman in 2019 and two deaths in 2020 including a 23-year-old young man, who leaves a woman and two children behind him. “Each death is a failure because we have an efficient health system, which gives access to treatment, we should no longer die of AIDS in Polynesia today” asserts the doctor. “But again, we only know what we detect, that she is the tip of the iceberg? “
Exclusion, rejection, fear
Beyond statistics « impersonnelles », he draws attention to “Human dramas”, saluting the honorary president for finding the « courage » to overcome the disease. “I know what it is to be on the verge of death, to come back, to rebuild, to fight” underlines the person concerned, herself HIV positive for more than 20 years. Exclusion, rejection, fear: beyond illness, “These are the realities that weaken”. Aware that HIV elicits less empathy than cancer, and therefore less visibility, she deplores the “Prejudices” which still weigh on AIDS patients, despite access to treatment. “When the person has decided to leave, they allow themselves to die and it is sometimes linked to this fear of being rejected. “
While the Covid monopolizes all attention and all resources, Agir contre le SIDA has decided to relay the project to the fenua. “Patchwork of names” : gigantic “tifaifai” designed as a memorial. “The Covid takes up a lot of space, the competition is tough” slips the honorary president. Karel Luciani, president of the association is betting on the ” local impact ” of “Symbol of Polynesian culture” embodied by tifaifai. Renamed «If you do not remember» in Tahitian, the project aims to capture the attention of Polynesians on the epidemic, “To perpetuate the memory of those who died of AIDS”, “to combat the exclusion and discrimination of people by allowing relatives who wish to affirm the true cause of death of their loved ones, and to work in greater visibility for awareness. ” The association will present its first models on December 1st and invite everyone to make their own patchwork. “If you can send us even a photo of the work, that would already be a huge contribution” adds the president.
The very first copy is exhibited on the fare of the assembly of French Polynesia. Those who wish can leave a note. “It is a beautiful tribute that the association wants to pay to the victims, comments Mayor Bopp Dupont. But it is also a way of telling patients that they are not forgotten. “