A total of 204 Bulgarians had been found to have HIV after a total of 258 000 people were tested in 2015, the Ministry of Health said on December 1, World AIDS Day.
The new cases bring the country’s total of people with HIV to 2247. Going by the most recent census, in 2011, Bulgaria has a population of about 7.1 million people.
Of those newly-registered as having HIV, 174 were men and 30 were women, the Health Ministry said.
Close to 90 per cent of the new HIV infections in Bulgaria were the result of sexual contact, more than half being through same-sex or bisexual contacts, the ministry said. Thirty-eight per cent resulted from heterosexual sex and 11 per cent through drug use involving needles.
The percentage of infections through intravenous drug use was showing a downward trend, the Health Ministry said.
Nearly 54 per cent of those newly-registered as having HIV were in the 30 to 49 years age group. Twenty-five per cent were aged from 20 to 29.
The largest number of those newly-infected with HIV were in Bulgaria’s capital city Sofia (80), followed by Plovdiv (26), Varna (19), Bourgas (nine), Pazardzhik (eight), Veliko Turnovo (seven), Pernik and Pleven (five), Dobrich, Montana and Vratsa (four), Blagoevgrad, Gabrovo, Kurdzhali, Smolyan and Rousse (three), Vidin, Kyustendil, Lovech, Sliven, Sofia region, Haskovo and Turgovishte (two) and Yambol, Shoumen, Stara Zagora and Silistra (one or more).
Bulgaria’s Health Ministry provides free modern anti-retroviral drugs to all in need who have HIV-AIDS.
Five facilitis have been opened to treat patients at clinics in Sofia, Plovdiv, Varna and Stara Zagora, using funding from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. The Global Fund supports the work of four organisations providing care and assistance for people living with HIV in Bulgaria. These organisations are in the cities of Sofia, Plovdiv and Varna.
Anti-retroviral treatment prolongs the lives of patients and improves their immune status and quality of life, the ministry said.
Combination therapy and monitoring is provided by the Ministry of Health to all living with HIV-AIDS in Bulgaria who are in need, regardless of their health insurance status, the ministry said.
There is a network of 18 youth clubs for training of peers, supported by NGOs working among children and young people at risk in 18 regional cities.
Money from the Global Fund has supported the operation of four low-threshold methadone programs for IDUs in Plovdiv, Pazardzhik, Varna and Sofia with a total capacity of 400 places.
Since the beginning of 2015 to September 30, NGOs working on the “Prevention and Control of HIV/AIDS” programme have provided health and social services to 42 852 people from the most vulnerable groups. Through preventive activities, about 45 000 children and young people at risk have been reached. Since the beginning of the program in 2004, a total of 15 834 904 free condoms have been distributed through work in the field, after consultation and during the campaigns, the Health Ministry said.
Bulgaria is a country with relatively low prevalence of HIV – the infection rate is two of 100 000 people.
On the occasion of December 1, the World Day to Combat HIV/AIDS, young people from the Sofia organisation of Bulgarian Red Cross organized a large-scale information campaign, covering the key points in the city.