|Number of HIV Diagnoses in Amsterdam Halved|
by Redaktie in Health & Body , 14 September 2017
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The number of HIV diagnoses in the city of Amsterdam has halved over a 5-year period. The city has been very successful in the implementation of the UN targets in the fight against new HIV infections. This was made evident in a report presented by UNAIDS in July on the eve of the International Aids Conference in Paris.
The result is partly due to the ground-breaking work of the H-TEAM (HIV Transmission Elimination Amsterdam), a collaboration between scientists, doctors, politicians and lobbyists, and people with HIV. The H-TEAM aims at zero new HIV infections. H-TEAM representatives have responded positively to these new figures. Louise van Deth, Executive Director of the Aids Fonds: ‘This is a great achievement by the city of Amsterdam.’
The report presented by UNAIDS is the result of the agreement signed by all UN members to eliminate AIDS by 2030. The members set themselves the so-called 90-90-90 target for 2020: 90% of all people with HIV should have been tested and know they have HIV, 90% of those people are on treatment, and in 90% of those treated the virus is suppressed to such a degree that they can no longer transfer the virus. These are the ambitious figures every country and every city is now working towards.
In Amsterdam, where more than a quarter of people living with HIV in the Netherlands live, the following percentages have now been reached: 94-90-94. Amsterdam received an honourable mention in the UNAID report on the global fight against HIV: “In Amsterdam, 100-100-100 is our goal!”
Prof. Dr. Peter Reiss, project leader of the Amsterdam H-TEAM : “It will be possible to reach that result through close cooperation of all parties involved in the fight against HIV in Amsterdam. We are working on HIV prevention, more testing, and the rapid treatment of HIV. It is the formula for success. We are showing other cities in the Netherlands and throughout the world, that it is possible to successfully push back the HIV epidemic.”
The Final Hurdle
In Amsterdam, the end of the HIV epidemic may be in sight, but we are not there yet. In a press release, the H-TEAM showed that this last step is the most difficult one. Figures also show that 45% of people who were diagnosed as HIV positive wait too long to visit their GP and are already seriously ill. The challenge still lies in faster detection and the prevention of new infections.
Dr. Godelieve De Bree, scientific coordinator of the H-TEAM: “Amsterdam can and should do more to reach the finish line of zero new infections. This requires additional efforts, in which all available means of prevention, including the HIV Prevention Pill PrEP, and early testing and immediate treatment should all be used in combination in the prevention of new HIV infections.”
An end to HIV in Amsterdam was one of the ambitious missions of leading AIDS researcher Professor Joep Lange. Joep Lange started the H-TEAM in July 2014, just days before his fatal flight with MH-17. Joep de Lange was one of the victims. Just three years later at the International Scientific Aids Conference, IAS 2017, in Paris, this very same H-TEAM presented the results and were commended for their innovative approach.
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