Germany, with a population of 82,670,000, is the most populous country in Western and Central Europe.
Latest figures show 85,000 people living with HIV (PLHIV), of whom 72,000 know they are HIV-positive and 60,700 are getting Antiretroviral therapy (ART), which has been available in the country for more than 20 years.
Among Germany’s 3900 new HIV infections per year, about two thirds are men who have sex with men (MSM), about a quarter from heterosexual sex, and less than 8% people who inject drugs (PWID). Although the figures fluctuate a little in recent years, they remain roughly stable.
HIV treatment is readily available, and most people living with HIV (PLHIV) get it. Germany’s highly developed system of health care is supported by government health insurance with mandatory membership for people with lower incomes. It is generally difficult to reach recent immigrants and asylum seekers with HIV information, but the attempt is being made.
Although Germany is not free of stigma and discrimination against people living with HIV (PLHIV), it enjoys a robust infrastructure of government and NGO sources of information and support for them.
(Figures from the Robert Koch Institute, 2015)
Telling their stories
HelpingHand is a unique organisation. In the wide range of healthcare bodies dealing with HIV you see quite a few that focus specifically on migrants. What you never see is what they do at HelpingHand, where patients, who are born in the same country, speaking the same mother language as the migrants, take care of the support and help.
Maria: ‘I had a wonderful experience with a young Colombian woman…’
Anako: ‘I’ve been here at HelpingHand for 5 years…’
Jate: ‘Sometimes when I feel bad I go back on the streets…’
Sonporm: ‘I want to be treated like everybody else…’
Yasmin: ‘I’m now at a completely different spirit…’
Annette: ‘My job is to offer them a perspective…’