Sciensano sees an uptick in HIV diagnoses in 2021

Thus, the number of HIV diagnoses increased by 4.3% in 2021, after the significant decline in 2020 – and the drop from 940 to 749 diagnoses – strongly linked to the impact of the Covid-19 epidemic and containment measures, Sciensano revealed on Tuesday. However, the Institute of Public Health notes that the overall trend over the past decade remains downward.

A total of 48% of newly recorded HIV infections in 2021 were diagnosed in men who have sex with men and 48% in homosexuals. Intravenous drug use was reported in 2% of HIV diagnoses and perinatal transmission for 1%.

If “the number of new HIV diagnoses has increased among persons of Belgian nationality, both among men who have sex with other men and between heterosexual men and women”, the institute notes “a decrease or stability in the number of diagnoses among non-Belgians”.

In 2021, Sciensano estimated the number of people living with HIV in Belgium at 19,177. Of these people living with HIV, 94% were diagnosed, 89% were on antiretroviral therapy and of those, 97% had a carrier Suppressed viral, which is 81% of all HIV-infected people, says the institute.

“However, approximately one in five people living with HIV will have an unsuppressed viral load and will therefore be at risk of HIV transmission. This is primarily related to delays in diagnosis or interruption in HIV medical care,” he notes. Public Health Institute.

Both Sciensano and the AIDS Prevention Platform insist on the need, despite the progress made in recent years, to make more progress with regard to early diagnosis and the effective use of a range of prevention strategies, pointing out that the HIV epidemic in Belgium is not. So far under control.

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