Majority of young people with HIV approve health services in Brazil

The UN designated December 1 as World AIDS Day

Published on 04/12/2023 - 08:00 By Léo Rodrigues - Agência Brasil - Rio de Janeiro

In Brazil, over 50 percent of young individuals living with HIV express approval for the health services they receive, according to a survey by the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF).

Published on World AIDS Day (Dec. 1), instituted by the UN General Assembly in 1988, the study titled "We are the Answer: What adolescents and young people living with HIV/AIDS think about access to health services in Brazil" revealed that 64 percent of respondents positively assessed their treatment, while 35.7 percent considered it reasonable or poor. Additionally, 20 percent reported facing challenges like disrespect, lack of privacy, discomfort during care, or feelings of guilt or shame related to their HIV status within the health system.

Moreover, 13 percent had their positive diagnosis disclosed without consent, and 20 percent were advised against sexual activity. "It is federal law that HIV test results must be communicated confidentially," notes Luciana Phebo, head of the health sector at the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) in Brazil.

The survey also delved into the logistical aspects of healthcare access, revealing that 21 percent face journeys of over an hour to reach health services, 53.7 percent between 30 minutes and an hour, and 46.3 percent up to 30 minutes. Luciana Phebo, highlights the significance of these findings, emphasizing how difficulties in accessing healthcare can “deter young people from adhering to treatment.”

HIV, a virus impacting the immune system, is primarily transmitted through unprotected sexual contact. Additionally, sharing contaminated sharp objects like syringes, needles, and nail clippers can contribute to its spread.

Unchecked infection without treatment initiates a struggle within the body to combat infections and illnesses, ultimately leading to the development of AIDS.

UNICEF highlights that 44.1 percent of the 40,880 HIV notifications in 2021 pertained to individuals aged 15 to 29. The research report underscores that “despite a consistent decline in new cases over the past decade, Brazil continues to grapple with high rates of new infections.”

HIV in Brazil

On Thursday (Nov. 30), the Brazilian Ministry of Health disclosed data for the year 2022, revealing 43,403 new cases of HIV infection in the previous year. Overall estimates indicate that one million people in Brazil are currently living with the virus. Of this total, 90 percent have received a diagnosis, 81 percent of those diagnosed are undergoing antiretroviral treatment, and 95 percent of individuals on antiretroviral treatment have achieved an undetectable virus load.

The World Health Organization (WHO) advises countries to strive for the 95-95-95 target by 2030. This entails ensuring that 95 percent of people living with the virus are diagnosed, with at least 95 percent of them having access to treatment. Furthermore, 95 percent of patients undergoing treatment should achieve the goal of reducing the virus to undetectable levels.

In the survey, 89.4 percent of respondents reported undergoing viral load testing in the last 12 months, achieving undetectable results. Additionally, 91.7 percent stated that a health team had discussed the viral load test with them. According to UNICEF, these elevated rates of testing and virus undetectability underscore the significance of the public health system and effective treatment.

The online questionnaire garnered responses from 710 individuals aged between 17 and 31. Among them, 488 reside in capitals, while 222 live in other municipalities.

Translation: Mário Nunes -  Edition: Kleber Sampaio

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