Ricardo Fernandes, the executive director of the association GAT – Group of Activists in Treatments, warned of the importance of early diagnosis of AIDS. The reality is that around 30% to 50% of the 2.2 million people living with the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), in Europe, are unaware of being infected. About 50% of patients are diagnosed too late, thus delaying access to treatment and a chance of success against the disease.
“The number of late diagnoses of HIV infection in Portugal is too high, accounting for almost 50% of the diagnoses made in 2014, according to the National HIV / AIDS Program. In other words, many people do not take the test Before presenting symptoms. This can happen for many reasons”, said Ricardo Fernandes in an interview with SAPO.
“Testing for these infections is crucial because it is known that the later the diagnosis, the greater the likelihood of suffering health complications and of being transmitted to others”, said the head of the ATT. The importance of early diagnosis refers to the fact that whoever is diagnosed with HIV infection, not long after infection, with the rapid prescription of antiretroviral treatment, can live a healthy life, similar to the life of the remaining population Seronegative.
The European HIV-Hepatitis Test Week is running from the 18th to the 25th of November. The main objective is to sensitize the Portuguese population to the importance of early HIV screening, causes, treatment, etc.
Regarding the investment, “The Portuguese State should adopt more measures that promote the early diagnosis of HIV infection and the rapid access to health care and treatment, since almost 50% of people are diagnosed at an advanced stage of the disease, which means Additional risks to public health, additional costs and a greater impact on the individual’s health”, said Ricardo Fernandes. “This investment should be made especially in those populations we know most vulnerable to these infections”, he added.
There are new means of prevention of infection, such as pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) already approved in Europe and not yet implemented in Portugal. “PrEP is a daily medication that prevents HIV infections in almost 100% of cases. It is urgent that the use of PrEP is defined in Portugal and that it is put into practice”, he said.
In the European Week, it was explained that, “The tests carried out within the framework of the European Week of HIV-Hepatitis Test are rapid tests, done by a simple finger prick. They have a sensitivity of 99.8%, having the usual window in the case of hepatitis C, the test used has 100% sensitivity and the window period is more extensive, as is common in the screening of this infection, reaching 180 days. Hepatitis B, the window period is lower than the rest – 60 days after exposure to the virus – and have a sensitivity of 98.33%”, said Ricardo Fernandes.
“Whenever there is a positive result for each of these infections, we offer the person being screened the possibility of referral to the National Health Service”, he concluded.