HIV-AIDS treatment reaching 210 people

By: Inês Almeida

In 2016, some 36.7 million people were living with HIV disease worldwide, with 1.8 million new infections, including 150,000 children under the age of 15. After Africa, the Asia-Pacific region is the area with the highest number of cases: on average, 5.1 million people were infected, including 210,000 infected that year, while 170,000 died. that year from the consequences of the disease.

According to data provided by the Health Bureau, 210 people living with HIV or Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) are currently being treated by the Sao Januario Public Hospital (CHCSJ), comprising 190 residents and 20 non-residents. , some of whom are currently serving prison terms at Coloane Prison.

As a public health expert working at the CDC, Leong says that over the past 10 years, positive HIV results have increased due to the development of a faster network of tests.

“In Macau, the main vector of transmission is sexual intercourse, with 40% of cases coming from heterosexual partners and 31% from homosexual or bisexual partners,” he says. “We know that there is a growing trend of cases of gay and bisexual partners in recent years and we have responded to this movement in terms of prevention campaigns.”

The doctor believes that a lot of information is available in the territory about the disease because “in Macao we have a program to support non-governmental organizations with grants so that they can carry out activities” to promote the prevention of the disease. In addition, “sex education is part of the school curriculum, from elementary school to high school. Students attend sex education classes and learn how to prevent sexually transmitted diseases ”.

Still, Leong Iek Hou admits that some residents “don’t know how the disease is transmitted, so there are cases of infected people being fired from their jobs. The Law for the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases states that a worker cannot be fired from his job due to a diagnosis of infectious disease. Obviously, if the disease is potentially transmissible through group work, the infected person should be isolated. HIV is not transmitted through regular daily interactions. Infection is only possible through blood or sexual contact, so an HIV positive person cannot be fired because of this ”.

As an example, the CDC doctor mentioned a case she knows of a person who was diagnosed with hepatitis B and was fired. “We contacted the company to inform them of their illegal act. We are not aware of any similar case with HIV carriers ”.

Leong Iek Hou specifies that some non-resident people who work in saunas, karaoke bars and nightclubs are “legally obliged to present regular check-ups.” . . [and] . . . the employer can have access to the report and contact the immigration services, in which case he will lose his work permit ”.

In an official response to the magazine, the Public Security Police (PSP) indicates that no work permit revocation procedure has been initiated in the past five years due to infectious diseases.

400,000 patacas for an annual treatment

The treatment procedure is similar for residents and non-residents, but there are huge differences in cost. “If you are a resident, the treatment is free, including consultations, tests and medication. The SSM has a special channel for people with HIV. People who are infected or suspected of having been infected can call a hotline and make an appointment or go directly to our internal medicine unit at CHCSJ, which takes about one to two weeks, ”says Leong.

The internal medicine consultation includes a check-up, medication and treatment. “There is also a nurse dedicated to monitoring cases. A specific nurse follows and advises the patient in the psychological area on how to deal with the sexual partner and provides help with any discomfort that may result from an increase in the dosage of the drugs ”.

For non-residents, the situation is quite different.

“Non-residents have access to the same services but they have to pay for them. Most non-residents return to their home countries for treatment, ”Leong explains, but 20 non-residents of Macao treated at the public hospital pay“ 400,000 patacas per year, on average, for consultations, treatments and drugs ”.

The CHCSJ has four doctors working in the infectious diseases unit dedicated to HIV cases. Leong Iek Hou says that after a positive diagnosis, the first doctor’s appointment takes about a week or two, which is “much faster than normal waiting periods.”

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