Despite a fall in the number of AIDS cases in the Balearics, the region still has the highest number of cases per-capita compared to the rest of Spain. According to the Balearic Ministry for Health, the number of cases in the Balearics has been in gradual decline since 1996, but the Balearic Minister for Health, Aina Salom, said yesterday on the eve of today's World AIDS Day, the 133.7 cases per million in the Balearics leaves the region with the highest number of cases in Spain. Salom, accompanied by María Amengual representing all the non-governmental organisations involved in the fight against AIDS in the Balearics, said that after the Balearics, Madrid has the highest number of cases with 104.7 cases per million. However, the number of cases in the Balearics fell by 23 last year. On June 20, this year, the health authority was aware of 1'648 zero-positive HIV cases in the Balearics, 1'311 in Majorca, 250 in Ibiza-Formentera and 86 in Minorca. Salom said yesterday that 57.2 percent of cases prove fatal and that just over half of the patients are drugs abusers, 22.5 homosexual and 16.7 percent heterosexual. Over the past year, the local authorities have stepped up the fight against AIDS with the creation of an HIV forum and the launch of a prevention campaign for pregnant women accompanied by more awareness campaigns. But the work of the local authorities would not be complete without the vital assistance of the non-governmental organisations such as Medicos del Mundo. Salom announced yesterday that one of the plans for the future is to expand the syringe exchange programme in Majorcan pharmacies and to introduce the same programme across the Balearics.

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