Since last year at Colors Sitges Link we have had the Rapid HIV, Syphilis and Hepatitis C Test Service. It is carried out by our team of volunteers, properly trained in the field, and is done safely, discreetly and with total confidentiality. In just a few minutes you can be out of doubt and, whatever the result, you will have the advice and support of all our services, thoroughly prepared for these needs. To make an appointment with our service call the phone 93 811 11 66,  send us a WhatsApp to 649 012 044 or e-mail us to  vih@gaysitgeslink.org. Do not hesitate and do it now. Remember that “Knowledge is in your hand.”

Detecting HIV infection early has many advantages for everyone

“Nearly half of the new diagnoses of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection are made late, leading to increased morbidity and mortality, a further expansion of the epidemic and an increase in public health costs. “ Recommendations for emergency departments for the early diagnosis of patients with suspected HIV infection and their referral for investigation and follow-up, Spanish Society of Emergencies and Emergency Medicine.

Early diagnosis of HIV infection makes it possible to start antiretroviral treatment in the early stages of infection, which has multiple advantages, both at the individual level and at the community level. At the individual level, the early initiation of treatment prevents the damage of the virus in the immune system, which can translate into a lower risk of developing diseases in the long term. On the other hand, it is also related to a smaller reservoir of the virus in the body. The viral reservoir is made up of latently infected cells that have HIV inside them and are responsible for the persistence of this infection throughout life despite current treatments. There are studies that suggest that people with a smaller viral reservoir may respond more favorably to future healing strategies that are currently being investigated. The early diagnosis of HIV infection and the early initiation of antiretroviral treatment also has benefits at the community level since we know that if infected people receive treatment and have undetectable viral load (the amount of virus in the blood) there is no transmission of the virus. By shortening the time from infection to undetectable viral load, we can shorten the time during which a person can infect other people, helping to cut the chain of transmission.

The importance of talking about HIV

We are in the midst  of the COVID-19 pandemic and everything that revolves around it is important and urgent. We are bombarded with information 24/7, seven days a week: in the media, on the street, with friends, with family, at work, … It goes without saying that is extremely important. But we are missing something: we are not talking about HIV anymore, one of the greatest pandemics in history that has been  affecting our community for more than 30 years.

Medical Breakthroughs

Research carried out in recent decades has resulted in an improvement in antiretroviral drugs and treatment strategies. However, despite the efficacy and safety of current antiretroviral drugs, to maintain control of the infection it is still necessary to maintain treatment for life. For this reason, different studies of therapeutic vaccines and other strategies are currently underway in order to find a more definitive solution for this infection.

Prevention is the best strategy

The arrival of PEP (post-exposure prophylaxis), and especially PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) has meant a great advance in the area of ​​prevention strategies, and we will talk about them in future articles. In addition, studies are also currently being carried out with preventive vaccines, which are studying whether they are capable of preventing new infections in people at risk of being exposed to HIV (MOSAICO study, IMBOKODO study) and we hope to know the results in this regard in the coming years.

Meanwhile, as we have already commented, it is important to remember the benefits of early diagnosis and early initiation of treatment as a preventive strategy for our community and for each one of us. The rapid test is our best weapon and we have it available here, in Sitges, in our association, in Colors Sitges Link, free of charge and anonymously and with total and absolute confidentiality.

To make an appointment with our service call the phone 93 811 11 66,  send us a WhatsApp to 649 012 044 or e-mail us to  vih@gaysitgeslink.org.

With the support and advice of José Moltó and Lucía Bailón,
doctors from the HIV Unit of the Germans Trias i Pujol Hospital