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To the question: "Did you have an HIV test", Polish women respond indignantly: "What for? I'm not a prostitute after all. " - Women in Poland rarely test for HIV because they do not see such a need. They also rarely urge their partners to test. We are doing everything to change it, because over 50 percent. of the entire world HIV-infected population are women - says Dr. Magdalena Ankiersztejn-Bartczak, President of the Foundation for Social Education supporting HIV positive people and their relatives.

You can have a husband and HIV, but also a husband with HIV

As a society, we perceive HIV in exactly the same way as … 30 years ago, that is in the 1990s. We are convinced that only homosexual men, drug addicts of both sexes and people working in the world's oldest profession, i.e. providing services sexual. A heterosexual, married woman infected with HIV is as mythical to us as a unicorn.

The fact that they can have HIV is also not believed by the women themselves. In the consultation and diagnostic centers that perform HIV tests, they account for approx. 30 percent. all applicants. And the older women get, the more convinced they are that they don't need HIV testing.

Although, according to the last epidemiological report on HIV and AIDS (December 31, 2022) provided by the National Institute of Public He alth-National Institute of Hygiene, the greatest number of detected cases of HIV infection concerned Polish women aged 30 to 59 . Meanwhile …

- Ladies from more mature generations, especially those in long-term relationships, do not test themselves or their partners. They explain: "Because he's such a decent guy and he would never cheat on me." Young women are starting to approach it a bit differently. And the younger they are, the more often they ask their partner for HIV testing when they enter into a new relationship. It is a sign of our times. It just happens less and less often that our first sexual partner is also the last one, such for a lifetime - explains Dr. Magdalena Ankiersztejn-Bartczak.

HIV should be loud not only on December 1

87 percent women in Poland believe that HIV does not affect them. Although on the list of factors and situations leading to infection, sexual contacts (including heterosexuals) are still in the first place. And the percentage of faithful partners is not that high.

- Since the HIV epidemic began inIn Poland, that is since 1985, the number of people infected with HIV has been steadily increasing. In 2022, we broke a new record. The presence of HIV infection was diagnosed in over 1,700 Poles, while in 2022 around 1,300 - says Dr. Ankiersztejn-Bartczak.

Statistics on people with HIV and AIDS grow quietly. There is as little talk about HIV and AIDS as if we would deal with HIV as if there were no epidemics.

- Because HIV and AIDS are taboo for us, just like other sexually transmitted diseases. And it gets a little louder about HIV and AIDS around December 1, when World AIDS Day is celebrated, and this should not be the case - people have unsecured contacts all year round. If we want to stop the epidemic, we need appropriate education and prophylaxis, and these cannot be carried out quietly - says the president of Ankiersztejn-Bartczak.

Perhaps little is said about HIV and AIDS, because …

Infected and sick people appear extremely rarely. The stigma of HIV and AIDS is so strong that HIV-positive people do not admit infection and disease, neither to their immediate family nor at work.

Poles are also afraid to ask their partner to take a test, they go to other, often very distant cities to test themselves, being sure that this information will not be made public in their place of residence.

- Unfortunately, the phenomenon of discrimination against people with HIV and AIDS by medical personnel, e.g. among dentists, is also very alive. Until recently, it was also the case that 99 percent of a woman with HIV gave birth to a he althy, seronegative child. pregnancies in women with HIV, it was the obstetricians who entered the information in the child's he alth book that she had HIV as a mother. You can imagine how negatively this provision influenced the medical care of the child himself - explains Dr. Magdalena Ankiersztejn-Bartczak.

Don't be afraid - test yourself!

Managed by Dr. Magdalena Ankiersztejn-Bartczak, the Foundation for Social Education has been supporting people infected with HIV and suffering from AIDS and their relatives since its inception, i.e. since 2002. The Foundation conducts workshops as part of the "Academy of Positive Life" project and provides legal, social, psychological and reliable information about HIV, AIDS and how to live with them.

- HIV-infected patients either have no knowledge of the virus or obtain it from very unreliable sources. The information gap in this area is huge, and people who find out that they are infected have a lot of questions and problems. That is why we have created a specialfree hotline - 800 14 14 23 , open from Monday to Friday from 4:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. - in which HIV-infected people are also on duty -says the president of Ankiersztejn-Bartczak.

Foundation for Social Education is also known for numerous social campaigns, the most recognizable Project Test, 10 years created and run by Agata Stola, joined by famous people from many areas of life, incl. actors (Magdalena Boczarska, Andrzej Grabowski, Jacek Kawalec, Olga Boładź,), writers (including Sylwia Chutnik) and media personalities (including Małgorzata Rozenek - Majdan) to break stereotypes around HIV and AIDS, as well as encourage Poles to take tests.

- Only 10 percent adult Poles have had an HIV test at least once in their lives. Among the positive, the highest percentage are those who were diagnosed with the infection late. Usually when full-blown AIDS has developed. And the earlier the virus is detected, the better the chances of successful treatment. That is why we say: overcome your fear and take the test - encourages Dr. Magdalena Ankiersztejn-Bartczak.

Read also:

  • HIV test - where to get it free and anonymously?
  • How is HIV different from AIDS

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