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HIVACAT

1st European Testing Week: "Talk HIV. Test HIV"

22/11/2013

  • 22 to 29 November 2013 marks the date for the first ever European HIV testing week, an unprecedented opportunity for partners across Europe to unite for one week to help more people become aware of their HIV status.
  • The Institute for AIDS Research IrsiCaixa has organized several activities in the framework of this event. More than 300 students across Catalonia will participate in sessions devoted to the outreach and prevention of HIV.
  • Much of the excess mortality associated with HIV could be preventable with timely diagnosis, through HIV testing among others, and initiation of the treatment with antiretrovirals.

From Friday 22 to Friday 29 November 2013, the 1st European Tetsing Week is leading up to World AIDS Day on 1 December 2013. The ultimate goal of the European HIV testing week is to make more people aware of their HIV status and reduce late diagnosis by communicating the benefits of HIV testing.

The focus for this first testing week is Talk HIV. Test HIV in order to encourage individuals at risk to ask for an HIV test and for more HIV tests to be offered to those at risk. This approach is aligned with IrsiCaixa’s objective to disseminate knowledge about HIV/aids and the research in this field to promote the prevention of aids, to encourage scientific vocations and to promote participation of young people in the dissemination of science and the prevention of aids.

In this framework, IrsiCaixa has organized several activities, as part of its HIV Outreach and Prevention programme, developed jointly with “la Caixa” Foundation. We belive that promoting awareness via educational campaigns, we can all contribute to the eradication of this pandemic. And at this point, HIV testing plays a crucial rol.

More than 300 students across Catalonia will participate this week in debate sessions where they will test their knowledge about HIV science and how to prevent HIV infection. Researchers from IrsiCaixa will provide information about HIV testing and the importance of being aware of their HIV status.

The programme also includes multimedia tools through two different participative portals: IrsiCaixa Outreach www.irsicaixa.es/en/outreach and Xplore Health www.xplorehealth.eu Both channels, with an average of 4.000 visits per month, disseminate knowledge about HIV testing and prevention.

Benefits of regular HIV testing
Today at least one in three of the 2.3 million people living with HIV in Europe are unaware that they are HIV positive (approximately 25%). 50% of those who are HIV positive are diagnosed late – which delays access to treatment. This means that many people are not being tested prior to symptoms emerging. This could be because there are barriers to requesting an HIV test or because healthcare professionals are not offering tests to these individuals. This is despite the benefits of early HIV diagnosis being well-documented. In fact, patients with a well-controlled HIV infection have the same mortality risk as the general population, as it is said in a study published in AIDS with the participation of IrsiCaixa. Researchers highlight that much of the excess mortality associated with HIV could be preventable with timely diagnosis and initiation of the treatment with antiretrovirals. This way, we would avoid suffer with health complications and have a poor life expectancy, pass HIV to others and reduce the cost of treatment.

The initiative is being led by HIV in Europe and all interested countries, organisations and individuals in the WHO European Region are invited to implement activities during the week and support dialogue to promote HIV testing. Whilst  HIV in Europe is helping to provide the platform for this first European HIV testing week, implementation of activities can only be taken forward by you, the participating partners.

 

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