According to data published by the European Center for Disease Control and Prevention (ECDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO), the rise of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) in Europe has gone up by eight percent in 2012. The report, which was released Wednesday, showed that countries in eastern Europe had more than 29,000 new HIV infections, and that there were 76,000 new cases reported in Russia alone.
Why is this happening? According to WHO, the increase is closely related to a lack of prevention methods and antiretroviral therapy (ART). Even though the number of people who received ART increased considerably from 2011 to 2012, it represents only one in three people in need. "The high and increasing number of AIDS cases in the East is indicative of late HIV diagnosis, low treatment coverage, and delayed initiation of life-saving HIV treatment," the ECDC/WHO report said.
Across the globe more than 35.3 million people have HIV, with 26 million eligible for ART under the WHO guidelines — but awareness to this is the main issue. “Our data show that nearly every second person tested positive for HIV in the EU/EEA — that’s 49 percent — 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”, said ECDC Director Marc Sprenger.
AIDS cases showed a steady decline of 48 percent in European Union and the European and Economic Area between 2006 and 2012. However, the number of people newly diagnosed with AIDS increased by 113% in the eastern part of the region.
Officials are hopeful that they will be able to distribute free condoms and easy HIV testing; free, clean needles and syringes; and have early access to AIDS treatment across Eastern Europe, Reuter’s reports.
“This shows that we need to make HIV testing more available across Europe to ensure earlier diagnosis and more effective treatment and care,” said Sprenger.