Politicians and organisations demand: Finland must join the fight against HIV

Mikko Rasila
Finland can be considered to be among the top countries in the world in HIV treatment but almost half of the people infected worldwide go without medical treatment.
Image: Mikko Rasila

World AIDS Day takes place on Saturday 1 December. On the themed day, organisations and decision-makers from a variety of different fields make appeals in favour of international HIV work Finland has succeeded exceptionally well in treating the HIV epidemic. According to organisations, it is possible to copy this success story all over the world.

In Finland, a person with HIV can live a normal, symptom-free life, even though the illness is chronic. Good medical treatment has had a ground-breaking impact on the lives of people with HIV. The cause behind the Finnish success story lies in the cooperation between public health care, authorities and organisations.

“Finland can be considered to be among the top countries in the world in HIV treatment. We have been able to keep the number of HIV infections the lowest in the world,” says Annika Saarikko, Minister of Family Affairs and Social Services. “Since the beginning of the HIV epidemic, close cooperation between authorities, health care and organisations has been an important asset for Finland. This cooperation has guaranteed free HIV testing services and efficient medical treatment. If we want to ensure that we remain a leading country in HIV treatment, the cooperation must continue.”

Almost half of the people infected worldwide go without medical treatment

“Finland’s success in treating HIV also has its darker side,” reminds Aino-Kaisa Pekonen, Member of Parliament and Chair of the Board of the HIV Foundation. “When people feel that an epidemic has been dealt with, many tend to forget the global HIV situation. Worldwide, four out of ten of those who live with HIV, which comes to about 15 million people, do not get medical HIV treatment. Medication stops the HIV infection from progressing, saves the life of the infected person and prevents HIV from being transmitted to other people. In other words, it is the only way to beat the HIV epidemic.”

”HIV is something the whole world shares and should be concerned about,”says the Executive Director of the Finnish HIV Foundation, Jukka Keronen, on behalf of the World AIDS Day Advisory Council. “It is possible to ensure everyone’s right to HIV medication through cooperation between states and global organisations. Finland also has to do its part by increasing development cooperation and going back to funding international HIV organisations. We also have to secure the operations of national HIV organisations when implementing the social and health care reform.”

World AIDS Day is an opportunity to raise people's awareness of HIV and AIDS and campaign for the prevention of HIV infections and the rights of people living with HIV. The themed day has been held around the world since 1988. The Finnish World AIDS Day Advisory Council includes Hivpoint, Positiiviset, the Finnish Red Cross and Pro-tukipiste.