Over 120,000 people are living HIV in Argentina but 30 percent don’t know that they are infected. Most, about 90 percent, are exposed from unprotected sex but babies and children still contract the virus from their mothers during labor or through breast feeding at concerning rates.
According to the 2016 HIV-AIDS Epidemiological newsletter issued by the Ministry of Health, in the past 10 years the amount of people diagnosed with the virus has lowered by 15 percent but many are still unaware of the disease and the ways to prevent it.
There is good news though. The chances of people getting tested just got better with new updates to policy.
The Government has now made it mandatory for doctors to offer HIV testing to any patient who may have diseases that tend to occur alongside HIV, and for people who were victims of sexual abuse or are partners of pregnant women.
According to the 55th resolution of the Ministry of Health, a signed medical order is no longer needed in order to be tested. While access to testing was already very good, with free health centers being located in neighborhoods throughout the country offering free testing, the policy update now makes it even easier for people to get tested once they enter the medical system.
Many STIs can be serve as indicators that it’s a good idea for a patient to get tested. The diagnosis of these and other diseases, such as autoimmune diseases, certain types of reproductive cancers along with parasitic infections will now require an HIV test to be performed. Labs are now able to run the exam without a signed medical order from a doctor. The idea being that the policy could loosen up some of the red tape that was previously acting as a barrier to accessing adequate testing.
Jorge Lemus, the minister of health of the city of Buenos Aires, said that within the whole public system, patients can request a HIV test with a simple request and signature of consent from the people involved, instead of getting a signed medical order.
Opening access to testing is one of the most important steps in beating the HIV/AIDS epidemic.