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Pace of new HIV diagnoses slows as UK claims successes

Friday November 30th, 2018

The number of new diagnoses of HIV in the European region continues to grow but the pace is slowing down, according to new figures published by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) and the WHO Regional Office for Europe.

The figures were published as the UK reported some major successes in the fight to manage HIV.

Figures released ahead of World AIDS Day tomorrow (December 1) show that there were more than 130,000 new HIV diagnoses in 2017. In the eastern part of the region, there was an increase of 68% in 2008-2017 compared with 95% in 2007-2016.

In the central part of the region, the new HIV diagnoses increased 121% compared with 142% respectively.

The report also shows that men are suffering disproportionately from HIV across the entire region at 70% of cases. In the eastern part, 59% were from heterosexual transmission.

It also says that late diagnosis remains a challenge across the whole European region, with every second person diagnosed with HIV having already reached an advanced stage in the infection.

Vytenis Andriukaitis, the European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, said: "A lot of progress has been made, but there is still much more we must do. We need to capitalise on the full potential of our joint and sustained actions, as well as increased collaboration with our partners across borders if we want to achieve the Sustainable Development Goal of eliminating HIV - in Europe and worldwide - by 2030.”

The report reveals that in 2017, more than 25,000 people were diagnosed with HIV in 30 of the 31 countries of the EU/EEA – a decline from a rate of 6.9 per 100,000 population in 2008, to 6.2 per 100,000 in 2017.

The main reason for the overall decline in the EU/EEA was a 20% drop in new diagnoses among men who have sex with men between 2015 and 2017. There was also a reduction in diagnoses attributed to heterosexual transmissions involving people from countries with generalised HIV epidemics.

In the UK the number of new diagnoses fell by 17%, falling to 4,363.

The British government said it was now one of the first countries to meet a 90-90-90 target. This meant that 92% of those infected have been diagnosed, 98% of those diagnosed are on treatment and 97% of those are getting successful treatment with suppression of the virus.

ECDC director Andrea Ammon said it is an “important signal for Europe's HIV response” that there has been a drop in new HIV diagnoses in the EU/EEA, which had experienced constant increases in reported HIV cases during the past decade.

“There are several reasons that can explain the decline across the EU/EEA,” she said. “They include successful programmes to offer more frequent and targeted HIV testing to promote earlier diagnosis. This allows rapid linkage to care and immediate start of antiretroviral treatment for those tested positive and wider uptake of evidence-based prevention such as pre-exposure prophylaxis.

“This decline also shows that a stronger focus on addressing and including vulnerable populations in the HIV response, as outlined in new ECDC testing guidance, makes the difference."

Tags: Europe | Flu & Viruses | UK News

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