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Warning of spread of undiagnosed HIV in Europe

Friday November 27th 2020

Parts of Europe are losing control of the spread of HIV, leading to thousands of people living with undiagnosed disease, according to a major new report.

The World Health Organisation believes the number of people who have the virus but have not been diagnosed is increasing overall in Europe with the majority of these in the eastern part of the continent.

WHO said that 53% of diagnoses were at a late stage of infection, reducing treatment options for patients.

Some 2,772 people were diagnosed with AIDS, now defined as the end stage of HIV infection, and 74% of these diagnoses came within three months of diagnosis with HIV.

Overall some 136,000 people were diagnosed with HIV infection last year, 20% of them in the EU and 80% in the eastern part of WHO’s European region.

WHO regional director Dr Hans Kluge said: “The question in 2020 has to be what effect the pandemic will have had on testing by the end of 2021. For now, our message has to be to protect the progress of the last decade by continuing to prioritise HIV testing and getting treatment to those who need it. We cannot allow the pandemic to rob us of an AIDS-free future that is within our grasp.”

Dr Andrea Ammon, director of the European Communicable Diseases Centre, said: “Despite the focus on COVID-19 right now, we must not lose sight of other public health issues like HIV. Earlier diagnosis of HIV is an urgent priority.

“If we want to reduce the high proportion of people diagnosed late, it is essential to diversify our HIV testing strategies as outlined in the ECDC testing guidance, for example.”

Tags: Europe | Flu & Viruses

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