Seropositive individuals in Cyprus face challenges such as a lack of medical personnel, social stigma, and limited accessibility to antiretroviral treatment. Proposed solutions include hiring more specialists, reactivating a national committee for HIV prevention, establishing a national registry for HIV, revising laws, extending treatment duration to six months, providing treatment at local hospitals, protecting patient data, and improving infrastructure. AKEL recently visited the Gregorio Clinic and identified issues in staffing and education. Parliamentary oversight is seeking clarification on patient treatment and laws labeling HIV as a “dangerous infectious disease.” The Ministry of Health is considering extending antiretroviral treatment and improving accessibility to treatment.
What are the challenges and proposed solutions for seropositive individuals in Cyprus?
Seropositive individuals in Cyprus face several challenges including a lack of medical personnel, social stigma, and limited accessibility to antiretroviral treatment. Proposed solutions include hiring more infectious disease specialists, reactivating the National Strategic Committee for HIV prevention, establishing a national electronic registry for HIV, revising decrees and legislation, extending antiretroviral treatment to six months, providing treatment at local hospitals, protecting patient data, and improving infrastructure.
Despite significant advances in HIV/AIDS research, numerous issues remain within our healthcare system, legislation, and state practices. Misconceptions about the HIV virus and seropositive individuals continue to persist.
AKEL’s Visit to Gregorio Clinic
Recently, a delegation from AKEL visited the Gregorio Clinic, a part of the Larnaca General Hospital. This visit included a meeting with the head of the Gregorio Clinic, George Siakallis, an infectious disease specialist, and George Antoniou, the General Executive Director of the OKYPY Larnaca-Amochostos District Directorate, as well as the rest of the hospital’s administrative staff.
During this discussion, the delegation acknowledged the vital work done at the clinic, including comprehensive diagnostic and pharmaceutical services for seropositive individuals throughout Cyprus.
Identified Issues and Potential Solutions
Nevertheless, the visit also revealed several problems that need urgent resolution to improve the clinic’s operations. The primary issue is a lack of medical personnel. There is a pressing need to hire another infectious disease specialist to bolster the medical team.
The clinic administration underscored the need to reactivate the National Strategic Committee for HIV prevention. The urgency lies in public education regarding prevention, youth sexual education, pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), and eliminating social stigma faced by seropositive individuals.
Another aspect that came to light was the need for a national electronic registry for HIV infection. This registry would ensure broader access to pharmaceutical treatments across all provinces and aid in strategizing overall.
AKEL MP George Koukoumas, as part of parliamentary scrutiny, sought clarification from the Minister of Health on various issues concerning patient treatment, personal data protection, staffing, and decrees and legislation that label HIV as a “dangerous infectious disease”. These laws, according to Koukoumas, require revision.
Extended Provision of Antiretroviral Treatment
Koukoumas inquired if the Ministry of Health plans to provide antiretroviral treatment to seropositive individuals for six months instead of two. According to international studies and best practices from European centers, this could significantly enhance treatment compliance and limit virus transmission.
In response, Dr. Kanari stated that they are considering extending the provision of antiretroviral treatment, although a final decision is yet to be taken. One option discussed was the extension of antiretroviral drug prescriptions to four months or six months, starting six months after treatment initiation. The other proposed solution was a recurring six-month prescription, with patients receiving medication every three months.
Enhanced Accessibility to Treatment
Koukoumas also raised the question of providing antiretroviral treatment to seropositive individuals at hospitals near their residences, not just at the Gregorio Pulmonary Clinic. This is being studied by all stakeholders for potential implementation. The Organization of State Health Services intends to extend drug provision from the Larnaca General Hospital Pharmacy to pharmacies in Nicosia and Limassol.
Patient Data Protection
Another concern Koukoumas raised was the protection of personal data of HIV patients. However, as per Dr. Kanari, it is currently not feasible for prescriptions to be issued by doctors at the Gregorio Clinic due to existing legislative and administrative issues.
Improvement in Infrastructure
The OKYPY is currently planning and studying the infrastructure needs of the Gregorio Clinic. As for organizational matters, it has been acknowledged that a part-time secretary has been employed.
This article was written by Elena Constantinou.
In simple terms, the article is talking about the challenges faced by people in Cyprus who are HIV positive. These challenges include a lack of doctors, discrimination, and difficulty accessing treatment. The article suggests some solutions to these problems, such as hiring more doctors, creating a national registry for HIV, and improving the infrastructure for treatment. The article also mentions that a political party called AKEL visited a clinic and identified some issues that need to be addressed. They are seeking clarification on laws related to HIV and are considering extending the duration of treatment. Finally, the article mentions that efforts are being made to improve the accessibility of treatment and protect the privacy of patients’ data.