HIV and AIDS have been kept a bit out of the public eye in recent years due to other challenges. “For us in Hesse, the topic still plays an important role,” emphasized Social Affairs and Integration Minister Kai Klose, on the occasion of World AIDS Day on December 1. For many years, Hess has been supporting the valuable work of AIDS organizations that educate and inform about HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases as well as about sexual and gender diversity. The state government funded a study by Hessian Aidshilfe on the status and development of HIV and STD prevention and care in Hesse, so that more people have access to HIV diagnostics and treatment when they need it. The UNAIDS study aims to identify where prevention efforts and care structures show gaps and which groups face particular barriers to access.
Offers must be low threshold, competitive and non-discriminatory
The results are particularly evidenced by social stigma and discrimination. Klose explains: “People living with HIV continue to experience discrimination and stigma in their daily lives. This is psychologically stressful, and sometimes necessary medical treatments are avoided. Shame makes prevention, testing, and treatment more difficult to access. These barriers must be addressed as part of global, national and regional HIV strategies.”
The study conducted by Prof. Dr. Daniel DeMille and Professor D. Thorsten Kohler is based not only on secondary data analysis, but also on an evaluation of conversations with HIV-positive people in Hesse, with HIV-specialized doctors and social workers in AIDS organisations. Documented descriptions of individual life trajectories illustrate the burden that HIV infection still means today. The evaluation shows what is central to the development of an HIV/AIDS strategy. Klose: “HIV prevention must be understood as a cross-sectional task. It affects professional actors such as health services, educational and immigration institutions, municipalities, government and AIDS organizations, and requires a strong network between them.” The perspective of people living with HIV or particularly threatened with the virus is particularly important to be constantly shared. The Minister stresses that “in order for existing offers to be accepted, they must be low-threshold, free of barriers, and adapted to the needs of those affected—discretionary, without taboos, and without discrimination.”
For Hesse, the RKI estimates a total of about 140 new infections in 2021, ten fewer than in 2020. According to these figures, about 6,540 people in Hesse had HIV/AIDS at the end of 2021, 730 of them without. diagnosis.