HIV testing increased by 26% last year. Hepatitis B and C testing also increased by 10%.

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Data on HIV and Hepatitis B and C testing was released on Monday to mark the launch of European Testing Week 2022, with the aim of raising awareness of the value of early diagnosis of HIV. HIV infection.

The number of screening tests for HIV increased by 26% last year, with 325,000 being carried out, as well as screening for hepatitis B and C, which in total reached almost 860,000.

According to data revealed on Monday by the General Directorate of Health (DGS), 300,000 tests were carried out in primary care for infection by HIV, an increase of 31% over the previous year. Non-governmental and community organizations made 25,000.

As for screening tests for hepatitis B and C, they increased by 10% last year, reaching 477,500 and 382,000 respectively.

Speaking to Lusa, the head of the National Viral Hepatitis Program, Rui Tato Marinho, welcomed this increase, stressing that one of the objectives of this program was precisely an increase in screenings, underlining the importance for all the population to take these tests. “at least once in a lifetime, even without symptoms”.

“A drop of blood can identify people in the early stages of these diseases, who are asymptomatic,” the official said, noting, “People are fine with knowing what they have because 40 million tests have been done. carried out in the covid -19”.

Tato Marinho says the goal is to treat around 2,500 people with hepatitis C by the end of this year. Official data indicates that since 2015, 30,000 people have been treated.

DGS data indicates that with regard to hepatitis B and C, last year, in primary health care and hospitals, a total of approximately 460,000 anti-BH tests and 360,000 anti- HCV were prescribed and billed.

In terms of testing through non-governmental organizations and community organizations, more than 17,500 tests for hepatitis B and 22,800 tests for hepatitis C were conducted last year, which represents an increase of 26% and 44%, respectively, compared to 2020.

“These data confirm the effort to maintain the screening and diagnosis response for these infections, in a year still strongly affected by the covid-19 pandemic”, refers to a note from the DGS.

Speaking to Lusa, Rui Tato Marinho acknowledged that Portugal had good logistics in place: “Since the drug consumption disaster in the 1980s, the country has organized itself very well and, at the moment, there are a lot of people in the field. of support to the most vulnerable populations, where there is a large percentage of people with hepatitis, namely hepatitis C”.

The infection is “transversal to any age group”

In any case, Tato Marinho insists on the fact that it is necessary to reach the general population, stressing: “We cannot think that the risk is only to have consumed drugs or to have sexual relations… the risk is to be alive”.

“It is transversal to any profession, to any age group (…). We are dealing with silent diseases and the only way to diagnose is to get tested. One drop identifies three viruses that currently have a vaccine and treatment with 100% cure. And HIV is also super controllable,” he added.

He also said hepatitis C is expected to “rise a bit” this year and said he was trying to improve the tuning of the drug approval circuit and access to drugs. , “which was very bureaucratic”.

“The idea is that the doctor gives the hepatitis C medicine, the person can take it home straight away during the day, avoiding having to go to another appointment,” he said. he explained, adding: “It is also one of the priority objectives of the program”.

Data on HIV and Hepatitis B and C testing was released on Monday to mark the launch of European Testing Week 2022, with the aim of raising awareness of the value of early diagnosis of HIV. HIV infection, sexually transmitted infections and viral hepatitis and the effectiveness of treatment adherence. .

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