AIDS: better controlled community screening to avoid late diagnosis
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    AIDS: better controlled community screening to avoid late diagnosis

    On Monday, during the European HIV Testing Week (November 24th-30th), several figures in the fight against AIDS – among which European AIDS Treatment Group (EATG), Ex Aequo, Médecins du Monde, Sensoa and Sida Sol – pleaded for better promotion of community screening. The Interfederal Plan to Fight AIDS, launched by the federal government in October 2013, aims to promote decentralised, non-medical screening by community health agents. This test provides quick medical guidance that can reach priority population groups with a high prevalence of the disease – such as homosexuals, sex workers and migrants. 

    The problem remains particularly acute in Belgium, where late diagnosis remains significant – 41% in 2012. That is why several associations are pleading for better promotion and a better legal framework regarding screening. This can then be built on through work achieved by reference groups.”

    “Screening should be accompanied by appropriate pre-screening advice and post-test counselling,” said Michaël François, Ex Aequo association coordinator, who has been implementing this type of testing since May 2013. Some 2.3 million people are living with HIV in Europe, with one-third unaware they are HIV-positive. As a result, 50% of people with HIV start treatment late: this has an impact on its efficiency andincreases the risk of HIV transmission.

    To set a good example, Senator Jacques Brotchi, MP Benoit Hellings, Brussels Secretary of State Cécile Jodogne and MP Fabienne Winckel conducted a rapid screening before the press, at the Senate. “I welcome this initiative. We must make this type of testing as widespread as we possibly can, so that people can be diagnosed as early aspossible”, said Mrs. Winckel.

    Christopher Vincent (Source: Belga)