An annual report from the European Center for Disease Prevention and Disease Control shows that in the space of a decade new cases of HIV in Malta have shot up.
During the last year, 72 people have tested positive for the HIV virus which can lead to AIDS. The report puts Malta in the second highest ranking for new HIV cases. Ten years ago the number of new cases stood at 17.
Asked whether this rate was alarming, the Public Health Superintendent Charimaine Gauci said that part of the increase may be due to increased testing.
“We are making an effort to submit more people to testing, so those who are really positive are giving a diagnosis and can benefit from free treatment we offer.
Professor Gauci said that most of the new cases reported were foreigners. She added that although most cases reported were a result of casual sexual activity between homosexuals, all sexual activity without protection could lead to HIV.
“We know that every sexual exposure to this virus without protection is a risk.”
In fact a report found that in 33% of all reported cases the virus was transmitted through sexual activities between women and men and only 4% of the new cases were due to use of infected syringes from drug use.
Against this backdrop, Professor Charmaine Gauci said more work was needed to contain this disease.
“Currently the government is working on a strategy to further strengthen our work on HIV, including work on prevention and Sexual Health Promotion.”
It is estimated that every year one million people worldwide die of AIDS. People affected by HIV in Malta are given free treatment by specialists at the HIV clinic. In recent years a quick test for HIV was being carried out at the GU clinic, and one can also test oneself at a pharmacy.