Get tested for HIV, urges new European campaign
(MSS) The first ever European HIV Testing Week kicked off in Luxembourg on Friday, encouraging people to get to know their HIV status, to prevent transmission, declining personal health and early death.
HIV has gone from being the equivalent of a death sentence in the '80s, to something you can control to the extent that early death and the fear of transmitting the disease is not a topic anymore thanks to modern medicine.
The first ever European HIV Testing Week kicked off on Friday and urges people to get tested and stop ignoring their HIV status – for their own and others' sake.
“We want people to find out if they're HIV positive. If you know about it, you can get treatment, but if you don't take medication, you will get AIDS, go to hospital – and eventually die if you are diagnosed too late,” Henri Goedertz, director of the Red Cross HIV consultation centre in Luxembourg said. He emphasised that with the right medication from an early stage, you can be HIV positive and live a perfectly normal life.
"It's less scary to be HIV infected nowadays"
The campaign aims to reach groups, who have an increased risk of infection, like men who have sex with men, sex workers and injecting drug users.
“At a European level, the number of cases is growing mostly amongst men who have sex with men, and this is the group we want to reach the most,” Goedertz explained.
Indeed, the statistics for HIV transmitted by homosexual contact quite prove that numbers have more than doubled from previous years.
For example 1986, 1991 and 2004 previously recorded peak numbers in Luxembourg with around 20 cases each year. In 2012, however, numbers almost hit 40.
“It's less scary to be HIV infected nowadays, so people in the gay community take fewer precautions,” Dr Vic Arendt from the Centre Hospitalier Luxembourg's department for infectious diseases explained.
More cases amongst heterosexuals too
Equally, the amount of new cases amongst heterosexuals also saw a rise in the 2000s with numbers peaking at 40 new cases in 2005. In the 80's numbers were as low as five a year, and the massive increase after the millennium is due to a rise in migrants, mainly from Africa, coming to Luxembourg, Dr. Arendt explained.
For injecting drug users, numbers have stayed stable, but the Luxembourg Red Cross is still doing all they can to reach this particular group as well.
“We use mobile clinics where we do rapid testing – that gives us the result in a few minutes, which means they don't have to return for results after one or two weeks,” Goedertz said, explaining that this technique works well for vulnerable groups like prostitutes and drug addicts.
On the occasion of the European Testing Week, the Red Cross HIV consultation centre will introduce a drop-in testing department, which they will continue running after the Testing Week is over.
A free and anonymous HIV test can be done at the following places:
- HIV Berodung Croix Rouge94, Boulevard Général Patton, L-2316 LuxembourgMondays and Wednesdays from 5pm to 7pm
- Centre Hospitalier, Department for Infectious Diseases4, rue Barblé, L-1210 LuxembourgMonday to Friday from 7am to 3pm
- Zitha Klinik36, rue Zithe, L-2763 LuxembourgMonday to Friday from 11am to 6pm
- Kirchberg Hospital9, rue Edward Steichen, L-2540 LuxembourgMonday to Friday from 7am to 7pm, Saturdays from 7am to 10am
- Laboratoire National1, rue Louis Rech, L-3555 DudelangeMonday to Friday from 7.30am to 4pm
- Centre Hospitalier Emile MayrischRue Emile Mayrisch, L-4240 Esch/AlzetteMonday to Friday from 7am to 5pm
- Centre Hospitalier du Nord- St. Louis120, Avenue Lucien Salentiny, L-9080 EttelbrückMonday to Friday from 10am to 2pm
For more information, visit aids.lu.