Staff Reporter THE Balearics have the second highest incidence of AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) in Spain with 84 cases for every thousand inhabitants, second only to the Spanish city of Ceuta in North Africa. The Ministry of Health and Consumer Affairs confirmed the figures yesterday during their presentation of the forthcoming “World AIDS Day” programme which will be celebrated on Monday. Since 1981, the Balearics has registered a total of 1'920 cases of AIDS, of which 52 percent of those infected have died. Of the total number of victims, 50 percent were drug addicts, 21 percent homosexuals and 19 percent heterosexuals. This last group was the only sector where there was an increase in the number of cases since 1981. In 2002 alone, the Balearics registered 72 new cases. In order to reduce the incidence of those infected with the HIV virus, a figure that has been on the decline since 1996, the Ministry of Health has this year allocated 435'000 euros to support a number of awareness programmes.

The most innovative project was the creation of new courses subsidised by the Institute for Women in collaboration with the Health Ministry.
The scheme is aimed at training professionals who will be able to detect women attending health centres who may be at risk from HIV infection.
Women represented 33 percent of the new cases declared this year, compared to 18 per cent in 2001.
Another pioneering measure was the creation of the SINIVIH programme, aimed at quantifying the new cases of HIV infection in the Balearics as a whole.
Furthermore, the Ministry allocated a subsidy of 200'000 euros to non government organisations to help those who already have the AIDS virus and to assist in medical research. Information, in the form of 300'000 leaflets giving advice on methods of prevention and areas of risk has also been high on the agenda.
Another key initiatve was the setting up of a system of syringe exchange at pharmacies and mobile units so that drug users would have access to clean, instead of infected needles. Additionally, a free hand-out of 290'000 condoms, nearly all distributed in Health and Social Welfare Centres, was made available for prostitutes.