HIV in Estonia
HIV (short for human immunodeficiency virus) is a lentivirus (the virus has a long incubation period) and causes AIDS (short for acquired immunodeficiency system). AIDS causes people to loose their immune system and so their organism becomes open to opportunistic infections and cancers. HI-virus is infectious and spreads by the transfer of body fluids.
According to National Institute for Health Development HIV’s triumph in Estonia began in 1988 and since then the number of diagnosed HIV positives has grown. In May and June 2000 five intravenous drug users were diagnosed with HIV. In August 2000 HI-virus was discovered in eight drug-injecting youngsters from Narva and on next month that year the virus was found in a drug addict young woman who died after giving birth. On 14th February 2001 Estonian Ministry of Social Affairs declared HIV as an epidemic as the number of virus carriers had grown from 271 diagnosed cases of HIV per million people to 1067 cases. However, the good news is that next year – the year 2002 – there were less new HIV positive diagnoses – 620 cases per million people and the number of new HIV positives has decreased since then. This means that the prime time of new infection cases of HIV was in 2001.
Fortunately, Estonia has taken HIV prevention very seriously and there have been many national campaigns and strategies from the beginning of 1990s. The most recent national campaign was signed by the government for years 2006-2015. The aim of the strategies is to decrease new cases of HIV positive diagnoses and to hinder the widespread of the virus among the people. There are various counseling centers in all the counties – counseling for drug addicts, for youngsters and for the people involved in prostitution. There are also many web-pages to increase the awareness and help find answers to HIV-related questions.
Although there are still new cases of HIV positive diagnosis every year, the number of them per year has decreased and Estonians are more aware of the disease and safety. It is pleasing that Estonian government has taken steps to help decrease the occurrence of new cases of HIV and helped to raise the awareness of people. HI-virus does not differentiate people, it can infect anyone. Most important is to always be precautious oneself; supportive to those suffering from it and to never loose hope when having it.