WHO officials have recently announced that over 153,000 people contracted HIV in 2015, meaning that more than two million live with this condition.
This is the highest number recorded since 1980 when the annual monitoring began. According to Dr. Zsuzsanna Jakab, Europe’s WHO Regional Director, although many efforts have been made to address this issue, more people get infected every year.
In other words, HIV remains a major factor leading to the death of many people across Europe. It is worth mentioning that the highest prevalence has been recorded in the eastern part of the continent.
The WHO has developed a comprehensive action plan which every European country hailed in September. Dr. Jakab underlines that the countries must use this action plan immediately to prevent HIV from spreading further throughout Europe. If their efforts pay off, the epidemic will be ended by 2030.
Adrea Ammon, the Acting Director of ECDC, says “the facts we know about the HIV epidemic are based on the number of new diagnoses reported each year, which represents the cornerstone of European HIV surveillance.”
She further adds that these numbers are far from reflecting the real situation. Based on the ECDC estimates, over 122,000 people living in the EU are unaware of the fact that they suffer from this devastating disease.
Worse, 15 percent of all people with HIV in Europe are unaware of their diagnose. Therefore, Ammon stresses that public health officials must raise awareness about this disease, facilitate testing, and promote other initiatives that would encourage people to find out whether they are infected.
Last year, 153,407 people were diagnosed with this disease in fifty European countries. More precisely, 27,022 cases were recorded in Western Europe accounting for 18 percent of the total.
According to the WHO experts, these numbers show that there has been no decline in HIV cases over the past ten years in this region. Furthermore, other 5,297 people contracted the infection in Central Europe, which means three percent of all cases.
The highest number was recorded in the eastern part of the continent as 121,088 people were diagnosed with HIV, meaning 79 percent of the total. These reports reveal that the number of cases doubled in eastern European countries over the past decade.