World AIDS Day is held every year on 1st December. It was chosen in 1988 at the initiative of the World Health Organization aiming to raise public awareness about AIDS, unite the fight against HIV and give opportunity for people worldwide to show support to the people living with HIV.
In Bulgaria, the World Aids day will be observed by various initiatives across the country including public awareness and educational campaigns on ways of transmission of the diseases and prevention. Young people from the Bulgarian Red Cross have organized a procession in Sofia as a sign of solidarity with people who live with HIV and AIDS.
Professor Tatyana Chervenkova, Dirrector of the infectious diseases hospital in Sofia and doctor Tonka Varleva, director of the programme for prevention and control of HIV/AIDS were invited in the BNT morning programme on 30th of November to discuss issues related to the disease.
Recent statistics, as at 25th of July 2015, shows that 126 new HIV cases were registered in Bulgaria in 2015. 90% of the new infections were transmitted through unprotected sexual contact. The overall number of HIV positive in the country is 2,169.
Would it be possible this number to be reduced to zero in relation with the forecasts for ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030? Doctor Varleva mentioned the UN Genetral Asebmly 90-90-90 strategy to end the AIDS epidemic. The plan is based on three targets: 90% of all people living with HIV will know their HIV status (which means strong policies for tests); 90% of all people with diagnosed HIV will receive sustained antiretroviral therapy and 90% of all people receiving antiretroviral therapy will have viral suppression. She said that all this would be related to development of programmes for prevention and treatment. She added that global statistics showed that 30 years after the outbreak of the epidemic, there were 78 million infected people in the world and 30 million of them died. The good news however is that over 37% of the HIV positive, which represents 13 million people worldwide, are prescribed medications and undergo treatment. For 8 million of them, the treatment was financed by the Global Fund, doctor Varleva explained.
In Bulgaria, prevention and treatment of the disease has been at a good level, she said. For the recent 12 years, the national programme for prevention and control of HIV/AIDS was co-financed by the Global Fund. However, it is now withdrawing and this is a problem, Varleva said. She explained that this withdrawal would take place gradually until state financing was provided.
Prof. Tatyana Chervenkova said that in the recent years, specialists focused efforts to identify cases of vertical transmission from mother to baby. High percentage (in some regions up to 100%) of pregnant women are tested and every woman diagnosed with HIV can receive treatment with the 3 component therapy. She explained the most recent achievements in the treatment of the HIV positive. The virus can be attacked as soon as it occurs. She also said that there were new medication, which combines three medicines in one tablet.