HIV Infections Up By 8% Across Europe

Author: World Health Organisation

Date: FEB 2014

According to new data issued in November by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) and the WHO Regional Office for Europe, more than 131 000 new HIV infections were reported in the WHO European Region in 2012:[1] 10 000 (8%) more than in 2011. This confirms a steady increase across the Region over that year: a 9% rise in countries in eastern Europe and central Asia (EECA) and a less than 1% rise in countries in the European Union and European Economic Area (EU/EEA).

Of the new HIV infections in the Region, almost 102 000 were reported in the EECA and over 29 000 in the EU/EEA. The total number includes more than 55 000 newly diagnosed HIV infections in 2012 reported to ECDC and WHO, and nearly 76 000 new cases recorded by the Federal Statistics Agency of the Russian Federation through its database.

While reported AIDS cases showed a steady decline of 48% in the EU/EEA, the number of people newly diagnosed with AIDS increased by 113% in the eastern part of the Region between 2006 and 2012. This increase is closely linked to the low coverage of prevention measures and of antiretroviral therapy (ART). Although the number of people in need who received ART increased considerably from 2011 to 2012, they represent only one in three people in need.

"We know that providing antiretroviral therapy earlier will allow people with HIV to live longer and healthier lives, and will reduce the risk of transmitting HIV to others," says Zsuzsanna Jakab, WHO Regional Director for Europe. "While the HIV epidemic in Europe has not ended, our goal of halting and reversing the spread of HIV by 2015 is still achievable in many countries." To support work towards that goal, WHO recently published new consolidated guidelines on the use of antiretroviral drugs to treat and prevent HIV infection.[2]

"Our data show that nearly every second person tested positive for HIV in the EU/EEA - that's 49% - is diagnosed late in the course of their infection, which means they need antiretroviral therapy right away because their immune system is already starting to fail," highlights ECDC Director Marc Sprenger. "This shows that we need to make HIV testing more available across Europe to ensure earlier diagnosis and more effective treatment and care." ECDC's guidance on HIV testing helps countries identify HIV infections early: it provides key information on why, where, how and when to test for HIV.[3]

Both directors agree that the joint surveillance report provides valuable evidence of the need for accelerated action against HIV across the Region.

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