Tue, 25 Jan 2022

HIV incidence declines in Greece but stigma remains

02 Dec 2021, 04:49 GMT+10

ATHENS, Dec. 1 (Xinhua) -- Greece's National Public Health Organization (EODY) had registered 402 diagnoses of new HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) cases between the beginning of 2021 and Nov. 1, 2021, down from 601 diagnoses registered in 2020.

The stigma and discrimination surrounding HIV positive persons is still a huge challenge in the country, Greek officials and associations representing patients said on Wednesday on the occasion of World AIDS Day.

Dissemination of knowledge in society is the way to combat fear and discrimination, they stressed.

"Stigma regarding HIV positive people is unacceptable. We stand by their side. All they want is our love and to be treated equally, like the rest of us," Greece's former Prime Minister George Papandreou told journalists after he was symbolically tested for HIV in central Athens.

The project is run by the NGO (non-governmental organization) Positive Voice, which aims to protect the rights of people living with HIV in Greece.

Approximately 15,000 people are currently living with HIV in Greece, according to EODY's data. Their therapy is fully covered by the state, but they still face issues.

"Science has advanced. Society must move forward as well. The problem is stigma and discrimination, not the disease," Savas Charalampidis, general manager at biopharmaceutical company Gilead Sciences who attended the same event, told Xinhua.

In a meeting with representatives of the Greek Patients Association on Wednesday, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis announced the government's decision to allow fostering by citizens who have been diagnosed with HIV or hepatitis B and are undergoing specific treatments in the context of a policy to eliminate all discrimination against HIV positive patients and facilitate their treatment, the Greek national news agency AMNA reported.

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