1st December 2020
Today the MHREC chose to spotlight World Aids Day, an international day celebrated every 1st December. This annual day of observation has become one of the most recognized days; a yearly effort to raise awareness, commemorate those who have passed on, and celebrate victories, such as increased access to treatment and prevention services.
One of the Sustainable Development Goals has committed to ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030- a feat that would require a continuous and collaborative effort from the UN, Governments, civil society and other partners. In an effort to succeed, stakeholders have been working together to scale up access to health services and to halt new HIV infections. More than 23 million people living with HIV were receiving treatment in 2018.
These responses would not have been made possible without the support of communities who put pressure on governments to change discriminatory laws, as well as promote access to judgement-free health and social services and ensure that services reach the most vulnerable and marginalized of individuals.
This year we are reminded that no one is safe until everyone is safe, so the UN has selected this year’s theme as “Global solidarity, shared responsibility”.
“Where communities are engaged, we see change happen. We see investment lead to results. And we see equality, respect and dignity. With communities, we can end AIDS.”António Guterres UN SG 2019
The world coming together
Our Global solidarity and shared responsibility require us to view global health responses, including the AIDS response, in innovative ways and work together in ensuring that:
- Health is fully financed through increased domestic and international funding.
- Health systems are strengthened and health-care workers are protected.
- Access is ensured so that no individual, community or country is left behind.
- Human rights are respected to produce sustainable results for health.
- The rights of women and girls, and gender equality, are at the centre.
A Snapshot of Malta
In Malta, individuals living with HIV who intentionally put another person at risk of transmission can be liable to criminal penalties. The law does not specifically single out HIV, however it does speak of diseases that are transmittable. Article 244A of the Criminal Code states that anyone who knowingly transmits, communicates or passes a disease shall, on conviction, be liable to imprisonment for a term from four year to nine years. If the person dies, the charge changes to willful homicide carrying harsher penalties. If a disease is passed on not willfully but out of ‘imprudence, carelessness, or through non-observance of any regulation by the person who knew or should have known that he suffers there from or is afflicted thereby that person shall on conviction be liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months or to a fine ‘.
Globally in 2020
38 million people globally are living with HIV.
25.4 million people have accessed antiretroviral therapy.
1.7 million people have become newly infected with HIV.
770 000 people have died from AIDS-related illnesses.
Zooming in on Malta…
In 2017, Malta reported the third highest notification rate of new HIV cases in the EU.
Rates of newly diagnosed cases overall have increased by more than 50 % since 2008, in contrast to a general downward trend observed across the EU.
Efforts to improve diagnosis rates, which remain below the EU average, are being supported by increased provision of rapid- testing HIV kits.
Get the support and services you need in Malta
Malta has a Genitourinary GU Clinic at the Mater Dei Hospital and their services include diagnosis and treatment of Sexually Transmitted Infections, counseling and testing for HIV as well as other genital conditions not necessarily sexually acquired.
If you have noticed any changes in your body, want to have a routine check out or merely would like to learn more please call Malta’s GU Clinic on 2122 7981 for a free and confidential check up appointment.
When calling for an appointment, you will likely be connected to an answering machine, which is only used by the healthcare professional. Patients can therefore confidently leave their contact details (telephone number and name) and a staff member will return your call.
There are other providers as well as support communities and groups who can support you. Please do also check out the information and guidance available on HIV Malta. This is a project led by Malta LGBTIQ Rights Movement.
Reach out to a friend today and set an appointment for a check up at Malta’s GU Clinic.