The number of people who have tested positive for HIV increased by 465 percent in the last ten years in Turkey, said the Turkish Medical Association (TTB) on Dec. 1.
“Although the world sees a downward trend in the number of new [HIV] infections, Turkey has become one of the countries has observed the highest increase rate. In the last 10 years, Turkey registered a 465 percent increase in the number of [new] HIV cases. On top of that, some 49 percent of people who have been newly diagnosed are young people aged between 25-49,” the TTB said in a statement marking Dec. 1 World AIDS Day.
The number of new HIV positive patients is expected to reach 4,000 by the end of 2020, according to the TTB. The number of people living with HIV in Turkey at the end of 2019 was 26,164, according to the association.
“These data show that the HIV infection will continue to be an important public health problem in the near future,” it said.
The association also addressed some questions to the Health Ministry, asking what kind of regulations the government has undertaken to support the HIV patients psychologically and to meet their essential needs during especially the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Has there been any problem this year with regards to the diagnosis of people with HIV infection, their monitoring and their treatment? If a problem has occurred, what has been done to solve it? What kind of regulations have been planned to protect HIV-positive people from stigmatization during the COVID-19 pandemic?” the association asked.
The U.N. Program on HIV and AIDS warns that stigma against marginalized populations are driving both the AIDS crisis and COVID-19 and must be eliminated to end what officials call the dual, colliding pandemics.
In a report, the U.N. agency has called on governments to place the most vulnerable at the center of their pandemic responses.
Although there has been significant progress in the treatment of HIV/AIDS since 40 years ago, the disease remains a public health menace. UNAIDS reported that 1.7 million people were infected with HIV in the world last year and 690,000 died.