– Unfortunately, our country still lacks the practice of testing. Everyone who starts a new relationship should take an HIV test – says prof. Miłosz Parczewski, president of the Polish AIDS Scientific Society. This is an important tip, especially since the number of infected people in Poland is rapidly increasing.
From mid-October to the end of November, 337 new HIV infections occurred in Poland. Since the new year, 2,688 of them have been registered in Poland – according to data from the National Institute of Public Health. This is a lot, considering that last year was a record year in Poland in this respect – 2,384 new infections were recorded.
Who should get tested for HIV?
“Unfortunately, our country still lacks the custom of testing,” says Prof. Miłosz Parczewski, president of the Polish AIDS Scientific Society, vice-president of the European AIDS Clinical Society and head of the observation and infectious disease department at the Provincial Hospital in Szczecin. He adds that anyone who starts a new relationship should take an HIV test. Also, people who had risky sexual contact, unprotected, or under the influence of psychoactive substances, did not know the status of their partner. This also applies to people who migrate from countries with a higher incidence of HIV infection. “In fact, most of us should do this, especially if we have never tested ourselves before,” says the professor.
Where can I get the test done?
In each voivodeship there are consultation and diagnostic points established by the National AIDS Center, where anyone interested can be tested for HIV. The consultation and diagnostic point in Szczecin was the first point of this type in Poland and has been operating continuously for 20 years.
“The tests are free and anonymous. Additionally, in Szczecin we have an increased pool of tests to include tests for syphilis and HCV, we perform them according to the same principles, with the difference that in the case of syphilis and HCV, the results are available after a while. We always invite you to the next duty for the HIV test result,” says nurse Małgorzata Kłys-Rachwalska. There are such points as in Szczecin in 25 other cities (the full list is available on the website of the National AIDS Center). To use them, you do not have to follow the zoning.
Positive HIV test. And what’s next?
If you test positive for HIV infection, the test still needs to be confirmed. If the result is certain, the tested person, in addition to information about the infection, receives psychological support and is immediately registered at the hospital’s acquired immune deficiency clinic so that they can quickly start treatment.
“HIV is not a death sentence if it is diagnosed early,” says Prof. Miłosz Parczewski. “Unfortunately, more than 55 percent of the Polish population is diagnosed late. And late diagnosis means life expectancy is shortened. If infections are detected early, we can treat them effectively, the viral load (the level of the virus in the blood) will be undetectable, so the person will be non-infectious.