Being infected with HIV does not mean that a person will also have AIDS, the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome. AIDS arises after the deficiency of the immune system, thus being an advanced stage of HIV infection.

HIV in Portugal

It was in 1981 that Portugal registered the first case of an unknown disease, often given only as rare cancer or strong pneumonia, later it was discovered that it was a new virus, coming from Africa. For many years, the disease was associated simply with homosexual men, where the virus would have a higher incidence, resulting in extreme cases of homophobia, all over the world.

Decreasing numbers

The report on HIV infections published by the National Health Service and the National Institute of Health Doutor Ricardo Jorge, with information up to 2019, shows a decrease in the number of HIV infections recorded in Portugal.

In 2019, 778 new cases of HIV were registered in Portugal, keeping the country above the European average. Altogether, there are more than 61,000 cases of HIV in Portugal, of which more than 20,000 are in the AIDS stage. Currently, the most frequent cause of death in patients with AIDS and HIV is pneumonia, and on average patients are aged 57 years.

The area with the highest number of cases is in the Lisbon Metropolitan Area, with 52 percent of cases and the lowest number of cases is recorded in Alentejo, with 26 positive cases for HIV in 2019. Among the municipalities with the highest rate of diagnosis of infection Portimão, Aveiro, Lagos, Porto, and Sintra, among others such as Albufeira and Odivelas, according to information published in the report published and made available online on the SNS24 website.

The cases are registered above all in men, but in the 1990s the maximum peak of infections that Portugal recorded was through infection through drug consumption with shared material. More than 3,000 cases were registered in 1999, being the year with the newest cases of HIV registered in Portugal. In 2019, the main cause is unprotected sexual contact, as the infection caused by shared material for drug consumption is almost non-existent. 2019 was also the first year since 2009 that a pregnant woman did not in any way pass the HIV to her child.

Prevention of HIV in Portugal

Contrary to what was thought, HIV infections are higher in heterosexual men, however, the values are increasingly falling, in part due to preventive measures offered by the Portuguese government.

In 2019, around five million condoms, male and female, were distributed free of charge in health facilities across the country. An increase of 16 percent when compared to previous years.

In part, the number of infections by shared syringes for drug use has also been reduced by the availability of sterile syringes in pharmacies and rooms where drug addicts can consume in a safe and assisted environment, with clean and safe material available.


Sex education in schools is also an important factor in educating young people about the dangers of the disease and how they can reduce their risk of the highly contagious disease. Pharmacies also provide self-tests for people to do at home, as well as in consultation with the doctor, free analyses can be carried out by the Portuguese State in analysis laboratories.

The first case of HIV in Portugal with the most media coverage was that of the singer António Variações, it is estimated that it was the first case in Portugal, and the singer was the first known death of HIV in Portugal, in 1984. Today, the focus is on prevention and rapid treatment to prevent the disease from progressing, with Portugal moving towards a positive climate regarding HIV.


Deeply in love with music and with a guilty pleasure in criminal cases, Bruno G. Santos decided to study Journalism and Communication, hoping to combine both passions into writing. The journalist is also a passionate traveller who likes to write about other cultures and discover the various hidden gems from Portugal and the world. Press card: 8463. 

Bruno G. Santos