HIV diagnoses in Catalonia drop 23% in 2019

United Nations targets for detecting and treating the virus by this year achieved

A banner in memory of victims of HIV and AIDS is hung over the Barcelona city countil building (image from Barcelona city council)
A banner in memory of victims of HIV and AIDS is hung over the Barcelona city countil building (image from Barcelona city council) / ACN

ACN | Barcelona

December 1, 2020 11:28 AM

HIV cases diagnosed in Catalonia in 2019 fell by 23.2% compared to 2018. A total of 471 new cases were diagnosed, according to data from the Center for Epidemiological Studies on STIs and AIDS in Catalonia (CEEISCAT). 

Around 91% of Catalans infected with HIV have been diagnosed, 90% of them are in treatment and 93% have an undetectable viral load. 

In this way, Catalonia has reached one of the targets set by the United Nations, which set to reach at least 90% in all of these statistics by 2020. 

The Department of Health says that it is on track to achieve the target of ‘95-95-95' by the next decade. In addition, health experts are working to achieve a fourth 90% metric, that is with people who have HIV and also enjoy a good quality of life.

New HIV cases have been declining since 2010, going from 871 new diagnoses that year to 471 in 2019, a drop of 45.9%. 

This reduction in the number of new HIV diagnoses is due, in part, to the takeup of treatments and preventive policies which have reduced the population that could transmit the virus. As well as that, Catalonia has seen an increased use of pre-exposure prophylaxis, also contributing to a reduction in the numbers.

An estimated 33,736 people live with HIV throughout the Catalan territory. Currently, the incidence rate of infection is 6.1 cases per 100,000 population. Men account for 87% of the total, with a rate of 11.04 cases per 100,000 population, while women have a rate of 1.5 cases per 100,000 population. The average age of people with HIV is 35 years.

Manifesto for World AIDS Day

Coinciding with World AIDS Day, celebrated on December 1 every year, 131 public and private entities joined the manifesto promoted by the Catalan Public Health Agency. 

Entitled ‘Sharing Commitments and Responses’, the paper aims to reinforce the importance of working together in the response to HIV and to appeal to a shared responsibility to achieve a healthier society.

The latest UNAIDS report, the United Nations HIV Program, estimates that there are 38 million HIV-positive people in the world and 1.7 million new diagnoses in 2019. In Spain, during 2018, 3,244 new cases were reported and an estimated 151,387 people are living with the virus.

Volunteers sought for vaccine trial

BCN Checkpoint and the Foundation for the Fight Against AIDS and Infectious Diseases and have begun recruiting volunteers for an international clinical trial of the HIV-1 vaccine

This is a study in phase 3 of the evaluation of the effectiveness of the drug. The hospital Germans Trias i Pujol in Badalona will be one of the 7 centres in Spain that will take part in the study that aims to enrol 3,800 people around the world, 250 of whom in Spain.

The main requirements to participate are to be a man or trans person between 18 and 60 years old, to have sex with other men or trans people, not to have HIV, and not to be taking PrEP (Pre-exposure Prophylaxis) or to have plans to do so soon.

It is also necessary to be available to attend the visits according to the study protocol, which lasts between 24 and 30 months. The vaccine will be administered in the hospital's HIV unit, while medical follow-ups will take place at the BCN Checkpoint facilities in the centre of the Catalan capital.