80% more new HIV cases in Europe and Central Asia compared to 2004

In a recent press release, the World Health Organisation showed that despite medical treatment advances and new prevention options, Europe and Central Asia have failed to curb the HIV epidemic. In 2013, more than 136 000 new HIV cases were diagnosed across these two regions, which represents an 80% increase compared to 2004, when almost 76 000 new cases were diagnosed.

The figures are quite worrisome especially that, compared to 2004, the EECA (Eastern Europe and Central Asia) countries have seen a two-fold surge in new HIV cases, while the EU/EEA countries have not seen a decline in HIV diagnoses.

Zsuzsanna Jakab, WHO Regional Director for Europe stressed that HIV/AIDS should not be given less attention, especially because “Europe has not managed to reach the 2015 Millennium Development Goal target to halt and reverse the spread of HIV/AIDS, and time is running out.”

The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is a retrovirus that infects cells of the immune system, destroying or impairing their function. HIV is transmitted through unprotected sexual intercourse (anal or vaginal), transfusion of contaminated blood, sharing of contaminated needles, and between a mother and her infant during pregnancy, childbirth and breastfeeding.

“In Eastern Europe, where 77% of all new infections were reported, two thirds of cases among injecting drug users were detected late, which means they are more likely to transmit HIV, their treatment is more expensive and they are more likely to die.” added the WHO Regional Director for Europe.

In the EU/EEA, sex between men is still the predominant mode of HIV transmission, which accounted for 42% of newly diagnosed HIV infections in 2013. This shows a low level of awareness among men who have sex with men and should be tackled by national HIV programmes across Europe.”, explains the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control Director Marc Sprenger.

The WHO introduced World AIDS Day in 1988, an annual opportunity every 1st December to raise awareness of the AIDS pandemic caused by HIV infection....