World AIDS Day is on Friday 1 December. Currently there are about 600 people with HIV in Finland who are unaware that they have been infected. Various organisations play a significant role in the fight against HIV when the goal is to make contact with those individuals whom public healthcare cannot easily reach.
Thanks to functioning drug treatment, a person with HIV can live a normal, symptom-free life, even though the illness is chronic. HIV medication taken regularly prevents HIV from being transmitted during sex, even when a condom is not used. However, much remains to be done to change the misconceptions about HIV and to distribute information.
“Ignorance and unawareness about HIV are still surprisingly common. Up-to-date and correct understanding of HIV and its treatment support HIV prevention and also have a favourable impact on the lives of HIV-positive people,” says Managing Director Sini Pasanen from Positiiviset.
Becoming aware that you have been infected is the key
HIV treatment in Finland is among the best in the world. But problems arise if a person cannot or will not be tested for some reason. Organisations function as pioneers in new ways of getting people tested and helping them seek other preventive services.
“The participation of the community is vital in the prevention of HIV. Organisations have experience in community-based operation where the customers and social and healthcare professionals can meet. Workshops create expertise in HIV prevention done communally, and peers transfer this knowledge to their own communities,” says Minna Huovinen from Pro-tukipiste.
With their low-threshold services, the organisations are able to reach people who would otherwise not seek to be tested for HIV. A growing need for anonymous testing is evident for example at the Finnish Red Cross’s Pluspiste testing services that perform HIV tests.
The organisations’ expertise and services are invaluable in the prevention of an HIV epidemic. Low-threshold tests for special risk groups must continue to remain available in the future.
“A person’s own health station is the primary place to offer them an HIV test. What raises concern is that testing is not always suggested, even if the customer has had unprotected sex. Particularly in smaller towns, customers might also feel awkward about making an appointment at their health station and talking about sex with a familiar doctor or a nurse,” spokesperson Anni Pätilä from Hivpoint describes the situation.
A cranky Angry Aids character busts some of the myths associated with HIV
The animation character Angry Aids that made its debut a year ago is absolutely seething, once again. This year, Angry Aids is offering his Christmas tips and is feeling desperate because preventing the virus from spreading has become increasingly difficult over the decades. Watch the animation on 1 December at maailmanaidspaiva.fi and join the conversation with hashtags #angryAIDS, #maailmanaidspäivä, #worldaidsday. The World AIDS Day animation is designed by advertising agency dynamo&son and produced by animation studio Boutique and sound company Humina.
Welcome to the national HIV strategy’s launch event, organised by the National Institute for Health and Welfare and associated organisations, on Friday 1 December at 10–11:30 am. Yliopistonkatu 4, 2nd floor 00100 Helsinki. Please notify us by 30 November if you wish to attend at firstname.lastname@example.org
Managing Director Sini Pasanen, Positiiviset, tel. +358 (0)44 5544 556
Service Manager Minna Huovinen, Pro-tukipiste, tel. +358 (0)40 7090 500
Spokesperson Anni Pätilä, Hivpoint, tel. +358 (0)40 120 9020
Spokesperson Mari Mäkinen, Finnish Red Cross, tel. +358 (0)40 581 0346
World AIDS Day is an opportunity to raise people’s awareness of HIV and AIDS and campaign for the prevention of HIV infections and the rights of people living with HIV. The themed day has been held around the world since 1988. This year, the Finnish World AIDS Day Advisory Council includes Hivpoint, Positiiviset, the Finnish Red Cross and Pro-tukipiste.