Russia, Ukraine, Belarus have highest rates of newly diagnosed HIV in Europe

29 November, 2018, 21:58 | Author: Lillian Steele
  • Epidemic: HIV Rates Keep Rising in Eastern Europe

Almost 160,000 people were newly diagnosed with HIV in Europe in 2017, the World Health Organization's Regional Office for Europe said in a news release Wednesday, calling the latest figures "alarming".

Rates of newly diagnosed HIV infections for 2017 varied significantly among countries in the WHO European Region, with the highest rates per 100 000 population observed in the Russian Federation (71.1), Ukraine (37.0), Belarus (26.1) and the Republic of Moldova (20.6). But Russia topped this, with 71 new cases diagnosed per 100,000 people past year. He added that the government was striving to advocate for more concerted action to prevent HIV/AIDS and provide those who were living with HIV the lifesaving treatment they need in a manner that respects both human rights and their dignity. But more can be done - an estimated 43% of new HIV diagnoses in 2017 were made at a late stage of infection, the United Kingdom figures showed.

The figures are drastically different within the European Union, though, when compared with the eastern part of the region.

"We also don't have enough data about men who have sex with other men, because of high levels of stigma", said Lunchenkov, who is openly gay. "We do not have many of these in Eastern European countries as opposed to Western Europe".

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"State-sponsored homophobia and transphobia (have become) a crucial issue", said Yuri Yoursky of the Eurasian Coalition on Male Health, which supports men with HIV/AIDS in the region.

"For injecting drug users, they need to have clear needle exchange programs". Furthermore, "the substantial drop-off between the percentages diagnosed and treated in the East sub-region is concerning since it enables preventable deaths, serious illness and onward transmission". My call to governments, ministers of health and decision-makers is bold: "scale up your response now", says Dr Zsuzsanna Jakab, WHO Regional Director for Europe. There should be adequate investments in prevention, treatment and detection, the report adds. While unprotected male homosexual sexual intercourses remain the main cause of transmission in European Union and European Economic Area, intravenous drug use and heterosexual sex was the main mode of HIV transmission in Eastern Europe, the report stated. That left Europe's overall increasing trend less steep than previously.

"Policies that reduce social marginalisation, stigma and discrimination are needed as are increased funding for prevention and testing", Pozniak said in a statement. This allows rapid linkage to care and immediate start of antiretroviral treatment for those tested positive and wider uptake of evidencebased prevention such as pre-exposure prophylaxis.

In total, more than 2 million people are affected by HIV in Europe, the report said. There are AIDS masses being held in some churches, club events, film screenings and lots more fundraising activities to attend.

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