Focus on HIV testing on World Aids Day in Slovenia
Activities organized in Slovenia to mark World Aids Day on 27 November 2013 focused on expanding and improving HIV testing in the country.
The level of testing for HIV infection in Slovenia is among the lowest in the European Union. In 2013, more than half of the HIV-positive persons in Slovenia were diagnosed late: when their CD4 cell counts were low and their immune systems thus substantially weakened.
A national conference co-organized by the Ministry of Health, the National Institute of Public Health and WHO drew attention to European HIV testing week (22 –29 November 2013). The week provides an unprecedented opportunity for partners (civil society, health care organizations, health care professionals and policy-makers) across Europe to unite for one week to help more people become aware of their HIV status.
A special guest at the conference was Maiken Mansfeld, Project Manager of HIV EUROPE.
The national conference focused on three main areas:
- Epidemiological data and the test and treat approach. In Slovenia there are several options for testing; including anonymous and free of charge testing that is available in several centres across the country. Consequent diagnostic procedures as well as therapy are also free of charge.
- Testing approaches. While men having sex with men is the population group with the highest risk of acquiring HIV in Slovenia, it does not represent a uniform group of people. The diversity of this group makes it more difficult to reach with preventive measures and early testing.
- Cross-border issues of HIV, with presentations from Austria and Croatia.
De-stigmatization of testing
Several other activities in Slovenia were also organized to mark World Aids Day 2013 and promote testing for HIV. Key messages targeted the population at risk as well as health care professionals providing the services. De-stigmatization of testing and of the infection itself is crucial for further progress in preventing the spread of the infection.
The activities in Slovenia were implemented by the Ministry of Health, National Institute of Public Health, Regional Institutes of Public Health, Clinic for infectious diseases, association of medical students and other nongovernmental associations.