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EU Index: Cyprus needs to drastically improve HIV care and support.

The care and conditions for people living with HIV/AIDS in Cyprus need to improve, said the Euro HIV Index (EHIVI) 2009 which was presented on Tuesday in Brussels.

This first survey of HIV policy and best practice ranked Cyprus 26th out of 29 countries, scoring 627 points from a potential 1,000.

Luxembourg wins the ranking with 857 points followed by Malta (791) and Switzerland (775).

According to an EHIVI press release ''the poor Cypriot conditions are explained foremost by weak access to care of people living with HIV'' and Cyprus is ranked behind countries like Bulgaria or Hungary.

Euro HIV Index Director Beatriz Cebolla said "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''.

She added that 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. There is also a need for improvement regarding harm reduction in prison."

According to the press release ''while the number of people living with HIV (PLWH) increases in every member state of the EU, budgets in several countries are reduced. Sexual risk behaviour is becoming more and more regular practice. Criminalization of HIV is a problem in many countries, and still HIV specific legislation exists in some countries, people can get prosecuted also for unintentionally and unknowingly transmitting the virus. The access to care for marginalized groups such as undocumented migrants is not guaranteed almost anywhere in Europe.''

''Discrimination and stigma against PLWH is frequent at work and in schools. Harm reduction strategies in prisons are still weakly implemented, especially in the Eastern European countries.

There is a general lack of leadership in HIV management and no government seems to know the true number of HIV-infected inhabitants. The main conclusion of the HIV Index is that there is still a lot to do,'' the press release concluded.

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Publication:Financial Mirror (Cyprus)
Date:Oct 13, 2009
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