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The application of tests to detect the disease drops by 16%

Although this year the health services have been restored, the level of care has not recovered 100%. This is the case of the application of tests to detect HIV, since during the first half of 2022, 16% fewer tests were carried out, compared to 2019.

In the first half of 2019, 1 million 231 thousand HIV and syphilis tests were applied, while in the same period of this 2022, 1 million 26 thousand were carried out. The comparison is made at times when there was no health emergency such as COVID care, according to data from the National Center for the Prevention and Control of HIV and AIDS (Censida).

In the bulletin corresponding to the second quarter of 2022, Censida reports that the application of rapid syphilis tests increased by 30% and 25% in rapid HIV tests applied compared to the first quarter of 2021. However, last year The pandemic was still being attended to and the attention numbers dropped drastically, just like in 2020.

If compared to the number of tests applied at the beginning of the current administration, the level of tests applied in 2019 has not yet been recovered.

HIV screening tests. Photo: Cuartoscuro

HIV: Why does testing matter?

Testing is an essential strategy for the treatment of HIV and syphilis because an early diagnosis benefits the patient and the health system, since the more severe it is, the more drugs and hospitalization are required, and it impacts people’s quality of life .

“Even when we are not locked up, the level of testing does not come close to 2019. We have to pay attention to whether the resources are being used properly,” warned Brenda Crabtree, an infectious disease specialist and researcher in Medical Sciences.

The specialist explained that the tests are essential for the care and control of HIV because thanks to them the disease can be diagnosed in a timely manner to begin treatment, stop spreading it and avoid advanced disease.

The expert emphasized that the offer of these tests should be for anyone.

“The offer should be universal, free of discrimination and not only in a hospital context, but also in a community context. Let this be a very easy process so that everyone who is sexually active can get tested on a routine basis,” she said.

HIV Testing: What’s Going On?

There are at least two factors that have led to the decrease in tests. One of them is that at the beginning of this administration, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador decided to suspend all relations and financing with non-governmental organizations.

In previous governments there was a close collaboration between Censida and civil society organizations so that the tests were applied outside institutions such as bars, sex work centers, on the street and at unusual times for officials, such as early morning.

However, as a result of the president’s order, this way of applying HIV tests was also ended, he explained to Political AnimalAlaín Pinzón, activist and director of the organization VIHve Libre.

“It is not being tested because there is no money, because the president took it away from them, while the Ministry of Health is not buying and the IMSS, ISSSTE have never tested,” said the activist.

Another factor that has influenced the lack of evidence is bureaucracy, since this year It took six months to finalize the purchase of just over 1 million tests. This is due to the centralization of the purchase of medicines by the Institute of Health for Wellbeing (Insabi).

In past administrations, the institution in charge of buying the tests to detect HIV was the National Center for the Prevention and Control of HIV and AIDS (Censida), but with Insabi at the helm, the processes have been encouraged because this institute does not have specific knowledge about the needs and requirements of each institution.

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