Under embargo until 00.01 Tuesday 1 December 2009
HIV cases continue to rise in the EU: Sex among men who have sex with men is predominant mode of transmission
HIV infection remains of major public health importance in Europe, with evidence of increasing transmission of HIV in several European countries according to the new HIV/AIDS surveillance data for Europe released on 1 December.
To mark the launch of the ECDC report and World Aids Day, ECDC, together with the Swedish Presidency, is organising a scientific seminar at the European Parliament in Brussels focusing on men having sex with men (MSM).
ECDC Director Zsuzsanna Jakab who is due to speak at the scientific seminar in the European Parliament in Brussels says:
“Our report indicates that we have seen a resurgence of high risk sexual behaviour in Europe among men who have sex with men. This is leading to rising rates of HIV infection among these men in EU countries, as well as outbreaks of other sexually transmitted infections.
Efforts to promote safer sex in this group have proved difficult and we must continue to support public health experts to devise new and innovative interventions; but they cannot succeed in isolation.
In all EU countries there are cultural and political sensitivities around the subject of men having sex with men and we all need to break free of these taboos, and talk more openly about the issue of HIV among men who have sex with men.”
The main findings of the surveillance report are:
- In the EU/EEA, 25 656 HIV cases were diagnosed in 2008 and reported by 27 of 30 countries (no data from Austria, Denmark or Liechtenstein), a rate of 61 per million population. The three countries with the highest rates of HIV cases in 2008 are Estonia, Latvia and United Kingdom. Furthermore, rates of around 100 HIV cases per million population were reported by Portugal, Belgium, Luxembourg and Italy.
- Thirteen per cent of HIV infections diagnosed in 2008 (with information on age) were reported in 15- to 24-year old individuals and 30% (with information on gender) were female.
- In the EU/EEA, the predominant mode of transmission for HIV infection is sex between men, followed by heterosexual contact. Around 42% of the cases reported to be heterosexually acquired were diagnosed in individuals originating from countries with generalised HIV/AIDS epidemics.
Background information on ECDC
The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) is an EU agency tasked with identifying assessing and communicating threats to human health posed by infectious diseases. It supports the work of public health authorities in the EU and EEA/EFTA Member States.
The ECDC/WHO joint report is available on both the ECDC website (www.ecdc.europa.eu) and the WHO Regional Office web site (www.euro.who.int/aids).
On 26 November and 3 December, the scientific journal Eurosurveillance (www.eurosurveillance.org) publishes a special issue on HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted infections (STI) in men who have sex with men (MSM) - trends and behavioural surveillance.
For more information, contact:
ECDC press office
E-mail : firstname.lastname@example.org
Telephone: +46 (0)8 586 01 678
European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control/WHO Regional Office for Europe. HIV/AIDS surveillance in Europe 2007. Stockholm, European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, 2008.
Read the report
World AIDS Day special page
Watch the video