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“HIV is not transmittable if treatment is successful”

“HIV is not transmittable if treatment is successful”
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Image: AFP PHOTO / STR
"HIV is not transmittable if treatment is successful"
Michael Hofbauer, HIV-positive and interlocutor in the project “Positive buddies” the Aidshilfe Upper Austria
Image: private

There were 473 new diagnoses of the HIV virus in Austria last year, 70 in Upper Austria alone – several thousand people in this country live with HIV. “In treated people, the virus can no longer be detected and is then not transferable”says Alexander Zoufaly, President of the Austrian AIDS Society (ÖAG).

Still, there is a lot of stigma. A survey commissioned by the pharmaceutical company Gilead shows that 21 percent of Austrians believe that HIV-positive people are a danger to society. Almost a third incorrectly believe that HIV can be transmitted through a kiss. 13 percent also assume this for insect bites and at least twelve or ten percent are wrongly afraid of infection through sharing dishes or toilets.

“HIV is primarily a sexually transmitted infection”says HIV specialist Zoufaly on the occasion of World AIDS Day on December 1st. According to the study, around 30 percent of infections occur during heterosexual contacts. Unfortunately, there is still a lot of discrimination, says the doctor. The best way to improve the situation is education.

Michael Hofbauer from Lichtenberg has been going public with his HIV diagnosis since 2020 and has the book “Dance with your own self” written about it. At the project “Positive buddies” At Aidshilfe Upper Austria he supports newly diagnosed people as a conversation partner. The feeling of “Being let down” is often at the beginning.

"HIV is not transmittable if treatment is successful"
Michael Hofbauer, HIV-positive and interlocutor in the project “Positive buddies” the Aidshilfe Upper Austria
Image: private

HIV is easily treatable

Treatment with just one tablet a day cannot drive the HIV virus out of the body, but it can prevent the resulting AIDS disease from breaking out. “HIV and AIDS are easily treatable”says Zoufaly.

Those affected have almost the same life expectancy as healthy people. “The tablets I have to take have no side effects except for the first two weeks of taking them”says Michael Hofbauer.

Because symptoms of HIV may not appear until years after infection, early diagnosis and prompt treatment are important. The simplest means of preventing infection is the condom. People with high-risk contacts can take medications developed for prevention, called pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP).

  • In Austria there is a unique offer anonymous, cost-effective testing on the five most common sexually transmitted diseases (STIs): HIV, hepatitis B and C, syphilis, gonorrhea and chlamydia. Except for HIV and hepatitis B, all STIs are curable.
  • On December 1st there will be a meeting at 9 p.m Pub Quiz Special took place in the Queer Bar forty nine in Linz.

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