December 1 World AIDS Day - Video

On the eve of World AIDS Day, the HCLU organized a demonstration in front of the Hungarian Ministry of Health to light candles in memory of the victims of AIDS.  The demonstration was also to demand that the Ministry of Health and the National AIDS Commission fulfill their mandates as outlined by international documents and the National AIDS Strategy; and to communicate that the present favorable epidemiological situation should not be left to mere luck, but be the result of a well-planned and delivered strategy.

Every year on December 1st, the world remembers the victims of AIDS. At present, there are over 30 million people living with HIV and more than 25 million people worldwide have dies of AIDS .

Although Hungary is still among the low-prevalence countries, the rate of infection is ever increasing. From the beginning of 2009 until the end of September, there were 102 new HIV-cases registered, 14 people were diagnosed with AIDS, and 8 people died of AIDS. (source: Epinfo 16./45. by the National Center of Epidemiology) Young people under 25 are more often among the newly diagnosed, and this year alone their numbers have risen by 40%. The AIDS cases and deaths are largely due to the fact that a substantial number of HIV-positive people only begin to receive medical care when they reach a fully developed AIDS-state.

The main reason for this pitiful state of affairs in Hungary is due to the complete failure to effectively implement the National AIDS Strategy.  Because the National AIDS Strategy only exists on paper, there has been no concerted effort by the Hungarian government to  achieve targeted goals in terms of prevention and to reduce discrimination and stigmatizations of people living with HIV/AIDS. The National AIDS Committee fails again and again to fulfill its mandate, as there is not enough political will to take seriously the fight against HIV and AIDS.

Since the mid 90s, there have been no national campaigns for the general population, and the figures reflect this  lack of information and sexual education among young people. Because targeted prevention is not a priority, the targeted prevention that does happen with MSM, sex workers and IDUs are done by NGOs with very little financial support from the government.

The HCLU study on VCT in Hungary (http://tasz.hu/en/en/vct) has shown that there are huge problems in this filed as well. There is no or inadequate counseling, which makes HIV-test lose its prevention value, and the law which ensures anonymous testing is often broken by VCT-service providers. Regarding the number of HIV-test performed annually, Hungary is ranked among the last in Europe, and the Ministry of Health has no plan in place to increase HIV testing figures.

One of the most important goals of the National AIDS Strategy was to reduce stigma of people living with HIV/AIDS. As there are neither anti-discrimination campaigns, nor trainings for medical staff or teachers, PLWHA are continuously the victims of discrimination, especially during their non-HIV-specific medical care (e.g. dental care). In Hungary, HIV-treatment is centralized; patients have to travel to the capital from all over the country for their check-ups, treatment and medication.

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