HIV is on the decline in Switzerland, according to the latest figures of the health ministry, with only 445 new cases reported in 2017. That’s a 16% decrease relative to 2016.
The Federal Office of Public Health credits increased screening among at-risk groups through targeted campaigns and earlier treatment of HIV-positive individuals for the achievement of this historic low.
“The decline in HIV cases shows the effectiveness of the prevention policy implemented in recent years and the strong commitment of all the actors involved,” said the ministry in a statement.
The number of tests carried out in 2017 in voluntary counselling and testing (VCT) centres increased by 11% compared to 2016. This increase is even more pronounced in the at-risk group of men who have sex with men (MSM), with a 20% increase in the number of tests.
Regular screening allows action to be taken at several levels to reduce the number of new infections, noted the health ministry. First, it partly avoids cases where a person transmits HIV without knowing that he or she is HIV-positive. And it allows early treatment to be started in the event of a positive diagnosis.
However, current therapies, when followed consistently, reduce the viral load in such a way that an HIV-positive person is no longer contagious. This not only prevents the transmission of the virus, but also encourages people to follow their treatment very carefully.
HIV remains incurable and requires lifelong treatment. To achieve the goal of eliminating HIV by 2030, it is therefore more necessary than ever to follow the rules of safe sex says the ministry.
With regard to other sexually transmitted infections, the trend is stabilizing, after several years of sharp increases. Cases of syphilis numbered 754 in 2017, chlamydia 11,101 and gonorrhea 2,809.
It is too early to determine whether stabilizing figures reflect a real reversal of the upward trend, according to the ministry, which notes several factors that complicate data analysis on this front.