Even 16 percent People who test positive for HIV are not treated. Currently, all the latest therapeutic methods are available in Poland.
There are currently approximately 20,000 people living in Poland. people with HIV, of which even one in five do not know about their infection. According to data from the National Institute of Public Health, over 2.3 thousand cases were detected in Poland in 2022. new HIV infections (which means an increase of over 1,000 cases compared to the previous year). At the same time, according to the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) 16%. People who receive a positive test result do not undertake treatment, even though all the latest therapeutic methods are available in Poland.
Why are HIV patients not treated?
Specialists also point out that in Poland there are still few organizations supporting people living with HIV – the issue of psychological support is particularly poor. Michał Pawlęga, a therapist and sexologist from the Social Committee for AIDS, who has been working with people living with HIV for many years, knows well the most common reasons for avoiding treatment. – These include fear of disclosing the infection to other patients and medical staff, tension caused by the stigma associated with HIV infection, anxiety and fear regarding the effects of therapy, including potential side effects and further life with the virus, and in the case of bi- and homosexual people – fears related to revealing sexual orientation and being recognized as a non-heteronormative person, he says.
Is HIV treatment reimbursed?
Volunteers and representatives of the Buddy Polska initiative, which helps people diagnosed with HIV, emphasize that the use of modern therapeutic methods available in Poland makes it possible to reduce the amount of the virus in the blood to a level undetectable using available diagnostic methods. As they add: you cannot become infected with HIV from a person undergoing treatment.
– HIV treatment in Poland is fully reimbursed for insured people. Most patients take their medications orally once a day. The treatment is convenient to use and effective. The most modern preparations are administered in the form of intramuscular injections every two months. This is a significant convenience for patients who, for example, travel frequently and do not have to worry about transporting medications. Despite this, many people are afraid of therapy, says Grzegorz Jezierski, coordinator of the Buddy Polska program, who has been living with HIV since 2018.
Support for people infected with HIV
As the representatives of the program emphasize, after diagnosis, a quick intervention that allows the patient to remain anonymous is crucial, building motivation to start and maintain therapy, facilitating improvement of the mental condition, including getting used to the infection. Contact with another infected person who has been living with HIV for a long time may be helpful here. As part of the Buddy Polska program run by the Social Committee for AIDS, you can contact such a person: meetings with volunteers take place in Warsaw, Kraków, Poznań, Wrocław and Bydgoszcz, and two volunteers live abroad and provide online support.
– Sometimes it is easier to talk to a stranger who understands the realities of living with HIV than to talk to family or friends. People who come to us for help are often afraid of rejection from their loved ones, and we, volunteers, understand this perfectly, says Grzegorz Jezierski.
Currently, according to the Social Committee for AIDS, work is underway to involve people living with HIV of Ukrainian origin in the Buddy Polska program.