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Cyprus fourth last in Europe for HIV care.

Byline: Sebastian Heller

THE CONDITIONS and care in Cyprus for people diagnosed as HIV positive were yesterday ranked as amongst the worst in Europe by the Euro HIV Index.

Of a total of 1,000 possible points Cyprus scored 627, placing it 26th out of the 29 states surveyed for the Index, as compared to first-place Luxembourg's 857.

The three countries below Cyprus were Italy, Greece and Romania in 27th, 28th and 29th places respectively.

The Euro HIV Index (EHIVI) is the first survey of its sort, seeking to rank the level and quality of patient care amongst EU states. The HIV condition in a nation state is ranked from a patient-centered perspective according to indicators grouped into the four main areas of Involvement and Rights, Access, Prevention, and Outcomes.

"There are some points where Cyprus must improve access to care: There is strong discrimination when care is requested by undocumented / illegal migrants. Furthermore, Tuberculosis patients are not frequently tested for HIV," said Dr. Beatriz Cebolla, the Euro HIV Index Director. "There is also a need for improvement regarding harm reduction in prison. Also, it would be important that Cyprus includes sex education as a mandatory subject in the curriculum of compulsory school; naturally, teachers need to have training to give quality lessons."

The weak performance of Cyprus in the EHIVI index, produced by the Brussels-based think-tank Health Consumer Powerhouse in association with the current Swedish EU presidency, is accounted for mainly by poor access to health care for people living with HIV.

In order to have a good HIV healthcare system that system must be able to effectively provide care to persons within different groups of society, most especially those most at risk of getting infected.

These high-risk groups include sex workers, marginal and migrant populations, injecting drug users and homosexual men. The best way to take care of these groups so as to achieve good outcomes starts with prevention programmes and good access to care. It might also be worth keeping an eye on developments being made in the field by the MHRP, the US Military HIV Research Program currently underway in Thailand, which so far has achieved an effectiveness of 31 per cent.

According the World Health Organisation in Cyprus the main mode of HIV transmission is sexual contact, where 63 per cent of all reported cases until 2006, with known route of transmission (98 per cent), were infected heterosexually and 33 per cent among MSM. The remaining cases include 1.0 per cent who reported having injected drugs, 2 per cent through blood transfusions (no new cases since 1991), and less than 1 per cent through mother-to-child transmission. There are a total of approximately 500 persons living with HIV/AIDS in Cyprus.

Copyright Cyprus Mail 2009

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Publication:Cyprus Mail (Cyprus)
Date:Oct 14, 2009
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