World AIDS Day

World AIDS Day

12/1/2023 9:00:00 AM
The ends of the red ribbon are pointed to the ground today, symbolizing the life that is disappearing. December 1 is pronounced to be World AIDS Day that has to remind of the danger from the lethal desease. However, we need to be informed and tolerant towards those over 33 mln. people around the world, who have to live with the dreadful illness. Most people are infected in South Africa, while over 2.2 mln. Europeans carry the virus. AIDS was mentioned in Bulgaria some 25 years ago and there were only few victims then. Today official statistics reports a number of a bit over 1200 HIV-positive patients. However, NGOs, working on the problem point out the number of over 4000 people at different age:

“Data analysis says that there are people infected at the age 15-66 – says Dr. Totka Varleva, Head of the Prevention and Control of HIV/AIDS Program. – I.e. the age has dropped to 15 years in 2010. The fact that 52% of recently discovered victims are aged 15-29 is also alarming.”

The treatment of HIV-positive people includes an expensive therapy that continues through their entire life. Current medicine can hold the levels of the virus so that it doesn’t threaten a person’s life, but it can’t be fully eliminated. The state pays the therapy, according to the law. However, there are problems – the medicines are not enough or don’t arrive on time, especially in these times of crisis. HIV-positive Bulgarians need to worry about something else too – they face difficulties while searching for a job and some doctors even refuse to cure them. Data of the Bulgarian Association for Family Planning and Sexual Health says that over 50% of young boys and girls in this country start their sexual life without using condoms. On the other hand an online survey shows that most of the young Bulgarians have never done an HIV test. At the same time there are over 19 medical cabinets that offer free and anonymous consultations. The latest HIV test for a check in domestic environment is also on the market. The I Know Project is a joint initiative of the National Patients’ Organization, the National Organization for Fighting Hepatitis HEPASIST and the Sofia Rotaract Club. “There is a stigma in the society and especially among young people on the HIV/AIDS test. They think that only those, who have screwed up need to do the test” – President of the Sofia Rotaract Club Vladimir Ventsislavov comments:

“We need to talk more on the illness – how to do the test and why it is important to know the difference between HIV and AIDS – he adds. – That is why we created an informational website that answers all these questions. We want to spread that knowledge in order for more people to be informed.”

A National Anti-AIDS campaign has been organized this year too under the initiative of the Prevention and Control of HIV/AIDS Program at the Health Ministry and with the partnership of the Regional Inspectorate for Prevention and Control of Public Health and all 28 regional centers in Bulgaria. This year’s campaign is under the slogan “Condom Yourself”. The danger of AIDS and ways for prevention will be explained at schools and universities through the next three months. The Anti-AIDS coalition, the Bulgarian Family Planning and Sexual Health Association, a network of 54 NGOs and over 150 schools have joined the campaign. There will be free tests, concerts, movies, round tables, discussions etc. Red ribbons that symbolize anti AIDS struggle will be given, as well as condoms and information leaflets. Volunteers from the Bulgarian Youth Red Cross will participate in the campaign again.