With over 142 000 people newly diagnosed with HIV in 2014, the WHO European Region recorded the highest number of newly diagnosed infections in one year since the start of reporting in the 1980s. In the countries of the EU/EEA, the HIV epidemic also persists largely unchanged.
The most recent surveillance data released by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) and the WHO Regional Office for Europe today show that in 2014, 29 992 people were diagnosed with HIV in the 31 countries of the EU/EEA. Over the last decade, the rate of new HIV diagnoses per 100 000 population changed only from 6.7 in 2005 compared with 6.4 per 100 000 in 2014 when adjusted for reporting delay.
“The HIV response in the EU/EEA has not been effective enough to result in a noticeable decline over the last decade”, points out ECDC Acting Director Andrea Ammon.
Rates of HIV diagnoses have more than doubled in Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Malta and Slovakia and have increased by more than 50% in Poland. On the other hand, rates decreased in 11 countries between 2005 and 2014, with decreases of more than 25% observed in Austria, Estonia, France, the Netherlands, Portugal and the United Kingdom. Two in three new HIV infections are among native-born Europeans, while foreign-born individuals represent one third of HIV diagnoses.
Sex between men main transmission mode in EU/EEA
Sex between men is still the predominant mode of HIV transmission in the EU/EEA, with increases in all but six countries. Despite specific prevention programmes that target men who have sex with men (MSM), Andrea Ammon stresses that “HIV diagnoses among men who have sex with men have been rising at an alarming rate from 30% of cases diagnosed in 2005 to 42% in 2014.”
The obstacle to ending AIDS: late diagnosis
While the number of AIDS cases is constantly going down in the EU/EEA, as many as two thirds of AIDS diagnoses reported in 2014 occurred at the same time or shortly after the HIV diagnosis. This means that at the time of diagnosis their immune system had already started to fail. This suggests persistent problems with access to, and uptake of, HIV testing and counselling by those most at risk in many countries.
The recently launched European HIV Test Finder
makes it a lot easier to locate an HIV testing site: all that is needed is a post code or city name to find information about the nearest testing site. “A quick and simple blood test helps to check if you are infected or not and with that knowledge you can better protect your own health and that of others”, says Ammon.