Number Of New HIV Cases In European Union Nearly Double
The number of new HIV cases recorded in European Union countries hasnearly doubled from 28.8 cases per one million residents in 1999 to57.5 cases per one million residents in 2006, according to a reportreleased on Friday by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, BBC Newsreports. More than 50% of cases are through heterosexual transmission,although men who have sex with men are at higher risk of infection,ECDC said (BBC News, 11/23). The EuroHIV data, published in ECDC's journal Eurosurveillance, found that in 2006, a total of 86,912 new HIV cases were reported across 50 of the 53 countries of the World Health Organization European Region.A total of 26,220 cases, or 30%, reported in E.U. countries, accordingto the data. The average rate of new HIV diagnosis across Europe isabout 111 cases per one million residents, and the rate among countriesin the European Union is 67 cases per one million residents (ECDC release, 11/23).
Accordingto the report, the number of HIV cases is continuing to rise innon-E.U. areas of Europe, with 288 cases per one million residents inUkraine and 275 cases per one million residents in Russia (BBC News,11/23). The data indicate that former Soviet countries had the highestnumber of new HIV cases in 2006, primarily because of drug use, Reutersreports. Former Soviet countries reported 59,866 new HIV cases in 2006,which is more than all of the new cases in Western and Central Europecombined (Reuters, 11/23).
According to the report,Estonia had the highest rate of new HIV diagnoses in Europe in 2006,with 504 cases per one million residents, followed by Portugal, theUnited Kingdom, Latvia and Luxembourg. The Estonian government said 90%of new HIV cases diagnosed by testing clinics in 2001 involvedinjection drug users, but that proportion dropped to below half by theend of last year. The data suggests that the virus has begun spreadingfrom IDUs to their sexual partners, BBC News reports.
Slovakiareported the lowest rate of new HIV cases in the European Union, withfive cases per one million residents, followed by Hungary, Romania, theCzech Republic and Bulgaria. According to BBC News, the figures come as the U.K. Health Protection Agency estimated that 73,000 adults in the United Kingdom are HIV-positive.
ECDC Director Zsuzsanna Jakab said the true European figures likely aremuch higher than estimated, adding that almost one-third of peopleliving with HIV in Europe are unaware of their status. "These peopleare less likely to take precautions against transmitting the virus andare also unable to access treatment," Jakab said, adding that"addressing this hidden epidemic is a priority for the ECDC" (BBC News, 11/23).
Jakabalso said that ECDC is "supportive of the work being done by theEstonian government to reverse the trend of increasing HIV infectionrates," adding that she has "pledged to support Estonia's "ambitiouslong-term plan for 2006-2015" to fight HIV/AIDS, which includes newinitiatives on surveillance, prevention and treatment (ECDC release,11/23). Kristi Ruutli, spokesperson for Estonia National Institute for Health Development, said that HIV is spreading among young, male IDUs, commercial sex workers and increasingly through heterosexual contact, the Associated Press reports (Associated Press, 11/23).
ECDCspokesperson Ben Duncan said in Western European countries, such as theUnited Kingdom and France, one of the main drivers of new cases waspeople migrating from HIV-endemic parts of the world. "Another bigdriver has been the increase in cases among" MSM, Duncan said, adding"Clearly, our prevention efforts are not having the desired effect --the safe sex message doesn't seem to be having the impact we wouldhope" (BBC News, 11/23).
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