The city of Ponant stands out again in the fight against HIV, with a first at regional level. Jean-Luc Roméro-Michel, founder of the association Elected local against AIDS, awarded Brest the “City committed against AIDS” label this Friday, May 6, 2022. An assumption that had been voted on November 26, 2020. Respect to the associations that get involved every day without moralism and with human respect,” said Fragan Valentin-Leméni, Deputy Mayor for Health.
Fight against “Serophobia”
In France, 170,000 people are living with the virus. Although medical advances are considerable, prejudices remain. For Fragan Valentin-Leméni, AIDS has “become a social disease: serophobia (when an HIV-positive person becomes a victim of discrimination)”.
An HIV carrier “may have the same life expectancy but not the same life as everyone else. We are stuck with the prejudices of the 1980s,” regrets Jean-Luc Roméro-Michel. In particular, he emphasizes the difficulties that patients face to get a loan from the bank, to travel to certain countries or to establish a love and sex life.
screen and treat
For the founder of Local Representatives Against AIDS, the equation is simple: “The end of AIDS by 2030 is possible if we can do mass screening. It is easily accessible without a prescription. Treatments have also become easier in recent years. Among them PrEP, a preventive tablet that makes it possible, in particular, to reduce or even make undetectable the viral load in virus carriers. The Brest CHRU is currently caring for 500 HIV-infected patients.
The city has been part of a national collective to fight AIDS since 1996. “What’s original about it is that it has endured to this day,” says the health assistant. The Brest associations are involved in this area by organizing prevention campaigns for the general public and groups in need, namely “men who have sex with men, exiles, young people”. Brest is also “the first town in Finistère to have two syringe exchangers” to prevent the transmission of HIV through contaminated needles used by drug addicts.
The aim of these actions? “Reduce the risks without being stigmatized and moralized. Brest is a city fighting the virus, not people. The label is more than deserved,” concludes Jean-Luc Roméro-Michel.