World AIDS Day is being marked today, Sunday, December 1, 2019, worldwide. At Rambam Health Care Campus’s Allergy, Clinical Immunology, and AIDS Institute, this year's data shows a decline in the number of new patients admitted during 2019, following several years of a mainly upward trend. This data brings the Institute into alignment with the current world trends in recent years.
According to data from the Rambam’s Allergy, Clinical Immunology, and AIDS Institute, back in 2008, 66 new patients were admitted to the hospital’s AIDS clinic. By 2017, this figure rose to 136, and in 2018, the figure continued to grow, with 134 new patients being admitted to the hospital clinic by the end of September. In 2019, however, only 96 new patients were admitted through December – this number includes both AIDS patients and HIV carriers. There has also been a decrease in the total number of patients treated over the past year, and in addition, the number of fatalities among the Institute’s patients has dropped from 14 to 9 for the same period.
From Fatal to Chronic Disease
"Today, people are no longer dying of AIDS," explains Dr. Eduardo Shahar, director of the Allergy, Clinical Immunology, and AIDS Institute. "Thanks to innovative drugs and groundbreaking research done in recent years, AIDS has become a chronic disease. However, when patients are not diagnosed and treated in a timely manner, medication will not necessarily be effective," he points out.
"Today, we see other developments. Firstly, there are new carriers in sectors where the disease didn’t really exist previously, and as such, awareness is low. Second of all, we see more complacency among at-risk groups where people are less careful due to the availability of new, successful drugs. We also see people living long lives with the disease, maintaining a high quality of life. It's a whole new era," says Dr. Shahar.
At a seminar held recently at Rambam with the theme "Treatment after HIV exposure”, Dr. Shahar revealed some of the therapeutic innovations in AIDS, including medication taken only once a day, reduced-side effects, and a development that should appear in the near future – a monthly injection that will replace the drug cocktail. At the conference, attended by more than 300 participants from across the country, Rambam AIDS experts reviewed the complexity of treating the disease.
Meanwhile, as part of the awareness-raising campaign, Rambam joined the organization "Living with HIV" this year, illuminating its main building—Sammy Ofer Tower—in red.
Dr. Shahar noted the significance of increasing AIDS awareness of AIDS, but added that it essentially comes down to the individual. "The decline in AIDS patients is definitely good news," concludes Dr. Shachar, "It's a combination of awareness of the topic, groundbreaking research, and effective treatment, and I hope the trend will continue in the years to come. For this to come true, the message is clear and important – for your health and the health of those around you, getting tested is vital. It is a simple, inexpensive, and reliable test, and early detection and timely treatment can prevent serious health problems and even death.”