Undoubtedly, times have changed and talking about HIV does not have the same connotations as a decade ago. It is also true that if the virus is detected in time with a treatment, it can reach a zero viral load when the World Health Organization determines that it is no longer transmissible. This kind of good news brought some "relaxation", taking into account that the number of cases detected per year is maintained, when one would expect them to fall. To do this, we added peaks of increase between 18 and 19 years and in more than 50 years. Conclusion: What is done is not enough if we want to stop the epidemic and, from the Ministry of Public Health of the province, we ask for more family and institutional commitment to educate about responsible sexuality.
Without going any further, the province maintained for a few years an average of 95 cases diagnosed annually, although this year could be exceeded, since this number closed the month of October and has two months to be counted.
Fortunately, and at the same time, there are other positive signs, such as that four years ago there are no cases of diagnosis by vertical transmission. This means that although there are HIV-infected mothers, children are born healthy thanks to the treatments applied. To this is added that of three health centers that care for HIV positive, now there are eight in total (see box separately). This tends to a more comprehensive treatment and monitoring of patients in order to achieve an undetectable viral load.
Victoria Sain, head of the Provincial AIDS Program, Syphilis and Viral Hepatitis, announced the current situation in San Juan.
-What is the current HIV landscape in San Juan?
Being an epidemic stabilized, more or less the same numbers are treated, last year 95 new cases were detected, the previous 97, and so on, however, this year draws attention that we closed October with 95 new cases of HIV. , and two months to finish the year, which will probably add other diagnoses. That is, we continue to rethink if we are detecting more cases or the transmission continues due to lack of care.
– At what age and sex do the diagnoses belong?
We still do not have data processing because we closed in December, but in reality the epidemic in all those years dictates that there are two men for one woman, and in San Juan there are almost three men for one woman. The ages are 32 in men and 33 in women, however, it is surprising that in the new diagnoses a peak is beginning to be noticed between 18 and 19 years of age and in people over 50 years of age.
"Does this also indicate that we may not have just realized the need to use condoms?"
The truth is that just with campaigns is not enough. We have to work throughout the province, every family and school with the law of Integral Sexual Education in order to change the conception of care of each one.
It is a basic job since the child begins to form. It is to start working on the concept of self-care, learning to say no, respect, start talking about sexuality. It is to build bases for making responsible decisions.
– Where are new diagnoses detected? Are they connected to the tests you do?
There are minimal cases detected by these campaigns that, in addition to the diagnoses, tend to approach the community, seek information and advise. This year we worked hard on a project of decentralization and adherence to treatment, so now San Juan has 8 interdisciplinary HIV care teams, the classics of Rawson and Marcial Quiroga hospitals, and the René Favaloro Training Center – known as the Rotunda , to which were added the Hospital of Pocito, Sarmiento, Albardón, Angaco and Caucete.
– What tasks are performed in these centers?
In the first place, the preventive task is carried out, which is a fundamental line to contain the epidemic. It should be understood that the use of condoms is essential so that a virus does not enter our body. The second line is diagnosis, and the third is access to treatment and adherence, because it is a chronic infection. If we can get the person to be adherent because the team contains it, because they can go to the hospital in their area to look for the medication, the undetectable viral load can be reached, implying that, at this point, the World Health Organization determines that the transmission is zero. It is an arduous task for the teams formed by pharmacists, biochemists, psychologists, social workers, infectious disease specialists and now they have begun to join nutritionists, who are responsible for containing people and achieving that goal.
– Given these work actions that are carried out, are there fewer and fewer people with HIV who reach AIDS?
Yes, it becomes chronic, it is now a chronic disease. The sooner the detection, the more chances of having a better quality of life, and not reaching a diagnosis when there are symptoms of the disease or there is a marked disease. If someone arrives with high defenses, the quality of life will be noticeably better. This year, the world's motto is precisely "Know your status", which tends to people to take the test and know your situation. If it's negative, I'm still taking care of myself or if I do not take care of myself I start doing it and think about how I move about sexuality. If the test is positive, let's go ahead with the treatment.
– With all these advances, do people still have prejudices about HIV?
Yes, the prejudices follow, perhaps not as stigmatizing as before, but they continue. Many children tell us that after they have had an antenatal examination, they do not call them and the question remains because it is because they do not agree with the profile they are looking for or because they take blood that is HIV tested without consent. We know this because we had to intervene a few times in this regard. There is still a lot to be done, and in this medium the media is key to getting the right information.
"Sometimes it seems like you only work on it when World AIDS Day is coming."
This year we said it would not surprise us on December 1, so we had a lot of meetings with civilian institutions and we ran a diffusion campaign that was a bit slow because at the same time hepatitis came up, but we're always running
– Has the delivery of medicines to people with HIV been cut or is it delivered on time?
Yes, they are delivered normally. There was a delay with the reagents with the dollar increase, but was exceeded. The province also made a major purchase to be supplied.
– In the case of women with HIV who are pregnant, how likely is the baby to be born with the virus?
If untreated and untreated, the chance of the baby having the virus is 30%, but with the treatment there is more than 95% chance of the baby being born healthy.
From the Provincial AIDS Program, the following calendar of activities was planned
* December 1st: In all the main squares of each department there will be an activity of awareness, from the delivery of red ribbons, classes, workshops and video projection. The idea is that information reaches all the people of San Juan and there are more voices in the departments.
* On the same day night, red ribbons and information will be delivered at the Teatro del Bicentenario in a performance for the benefit of Unicef.
* On November 29 and 30: The tests will be held at the Civic Center from 9am to 1pm.
* Monday 3 and Tuesday December 4: There will be tests in all health centers in the province with laboratory. In all cases, it is free and confidential. In this case the result is not immediate, will be delivered on a date to be indicated.
All those who wish to consult about HIV and AIDS can approach any of the following health centers that have interdisciplinary care teams. In these centers, the detection, treatment and monitoring of the affected are carried out:
Rawson Hospital; Quiroga Marcial Hospital, René Favaloro Training Center, Hospitals Albardón, Caucete, Pocito, Angaco and Sarmiento.
The last time a baby with HIV was born due to vertical contagion was in 2014, the year in which there were 15 births of mothers carrying the virus. In 2013, two babies with HIV were born in 13 births with the same risk, but since 2015 this case did not report any cases of a newly infected child, although that year there were 18 births with mothers with HIV.
In 2016 there were 11 deliveries; 12 in 2017 and 16 so far in 2018 and there are still four women who will be mothers before the end of the year but no contagion has been recorded.
This is due to the fact that they all carried out the controls and treatments so that their children are born virus-free.