"This is actually good news," Daniel Koch of the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH) tells the media. It is also a success story – a positive development for a society that was completely unthinkable 20 or 25 years ago. Since 2002, there have been fewer and fewer diagnoses of HIV. With 425 cases reported, last year's second consecutive mark of 500 was an understatement. The number of new HIV diagnoses is 5 per 100,000 inhabitants. This corresponds to a 30 percent decline in all of Switzerland since 2013.
Although Koch does not want to explicitly boast about HIV prevention policies, he affirms: "The significant reduction in new HIV diagnoses also indicates the effectiveness of the Swiss prevention policy." In everyday life, this means increased trials, especially for the most exposed groups of people. early onset of therapy and good follow-up.
People who become infected are detected earlier, according to Koch; Thanks to medical treatment, they usually no longer transmit the virus.
Points of interest Zurich and Geneva
New BAG figures also show that the number of new infections is highest in the agglomerations of Zurich and Geneva. Koch explains this with relatively large gay scenes in these cities – where the risk of contagion is still relatively high. "Therefore, in prevention, we focus on these focal points. Offers are very good in Switzerland, "says Koch.
The World Health Organization (WHO) wants to eliminate HIV by 2030. Koch says "it's possible". The goal is to prevent AIDS cases worldwide. This is not synonymous with the eradication of HI virus. In Switzerland, the target has already been reached. Because HI infection leads to AIDS, there are hardly any in this country. But this is not enough for Koch: “We still count more than one HIV infection a day. That is too much. "
Whether it will be possible to reduce the number of new HIV diagnoses to zero to date is a difficult question. "In theory, yes," Koch says. If you want to eliminate the virus completely, you must continue to work in the same style as before. "Maybe better drugs will come someday, maybe even a vaccine," Koch hopes. If you take all the instruments together, it is certainly possible to eliminate the virus. But it will probably take years.
How are medicines used?
I hope to raise medicines that prevent new infections. Used preventively, it protects against HIV infection. "But this is only possible with high-risk groups," Koch says. An estimated 1,500 people used this type of prevention last year. These are mostly men who have sex with men.
The BAG-funded study is currently underway in Zurich. This will show how these so-called preparative drugs are used and how close they can be to the goal of eliminating HIV. However, Koch wants to follow the old path to success in prevention and education. Next month, it will launch a new, broad-based HIV awareness campaign. Because it's still true: HIV-infected people can be treated well today, but they are still untreated. Self-responsibility is still needed.