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Bulgaria Ranks 25th in Europe by HIV Care

Date: 18.10.2009

Bulgaria needs to improve conditions for people living with HIV, according to the Euro HIV Index (EHIVI) 2009.

This first survey of HIV policy was presented Tuesday in Brussels. It ranks Bulgaria 25th out of 29 countries, scoring 639 points from a potential 1 000. Luxembourg wins the ranking with 857 points followed by Malta (791) and Switzerland (775).

The poor conditions in Bulgaria are explained by weak access to care and support for people living with HIV, the EHIVI press release states.

“The marginalized groups of Roma, sex workers, drug users or LGTB (Lesbians, Gays, trans)face additional stigmatization and discrimination, not receiving treatment for free as other Bulgarian citizens do, which hinders their access to care, support and treatment. Additionally, there is also an urgent need to establish harm reduction programs in prisons,” Dr. Beatriz Cebolla, the Euro HIV Index Director is quoted as saying.

The report concludes that while the number of people living with HIV increases in every member state of the EU, budgets in several countries are reduced and sexual risk behavior is becoming more and more regular practice. In addition, criminalization of HIV is a problem in many countries, despite specific HIV legislation in some countries; people can get prosecuted also for unintentionally and unknowingly transmitting the virus. The access to care for marginalized groups such as undocumented migrants is not guaranteed almost anywhere in Europe.

Discrimination and stigma against people with HIV is frequent at work and in schools while harm reduction strategies in prisons are still weakly implemented, especially in the Eastern European countries. There is a general lack of leadership in HIV management and no government seems to know the true number of HIV-infected inhabitants. The main conclusion of the HIV Index is that there is still a lot to do, the report notes.

The EHIVI ranks the HIV situation across 28 indicators, covering 4 areas that are key to HIV: Involvement and rights, Access, Prevention, and Outcomes. The Euro HIV Index is compiled from a combination of public statistics, patient polls and independent research conducted by the founder, the Brussels-based think tank Health Consumer Powerhouse. The EHIVI 2009 takes a patient centred position. The Index is being held in association with the Swedish EU presidency of autumn 2009. It has received an unrestricted educational grant by Gilead Research.

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