HIV infections up by 8% across Europe

News Press release

​According to new data published today by ECDC and the WHO Regional Office for Europe, more than 131 000 new HIV infections were reported in the WHO European Region in 2012, 10 000 (8%) more than in 2011. Of these new HIV infections, the countries of the European Union and European Economic Area (EU/EEA) accounted for more than 29 000 new HIV infections.

Across the EU/EEA, HIV continues to be concentrated in key populations at higher risk for infection. Similar to recent years, the highest proportion of HIV diagnoses was reported in men who have sex with men (MSM) (40.4%), followed by heterosexual transmission (33.8%) including heterosexually-acquired cases originating from sub-Saharan African countries. For 18.7% of the cases, the transmission mode was unknown.

More testing and better treatment coverage recommended

“Our data show that nearly every second person tested positive for HIV in the EU/EEA – that’s 49% – is diagnosed late in the course of their infection – which means they need antiretroviral therapy right away because their immune system is already starting to fail”, highlights ECDC Director Marc Sprenger. “This shows that we need to make HIV testing more available across Europe to ensure earlier diagnosis and more effective treatment and care.”
In addition, almost one third (32%) of those diagnosed with HIV in the EU/EEA do not have a CD4 cell count reported at time of diagnosis which makes it impossible to classify whether they are in need of treatment. This suggests persistent problems with access to, and uptake of, HIV testing and counselling in many countries. This also means that a substantial number of people across Europe need antiretroviral therapy but are not receiving it – either because they have not yet been diagnosed with HIV or because they have not been linked to clinical care and follow-up.

The ECDC HIV testing guidance helps countries in their efforts to identify HIV infections early: it provides key information on why, where, how and when to test for HIV. It aims to inform existing national HIV testing strategies in Member States to adopt a strategic, evidence-based approach to develop and implement effective HIV testing procedures.

In 2012, 4 313 diagnoses of AIDS were reported by 29 EU/EEA countries, resulting in a rate of 0.8 cases per 100 000 population. This confirms the steady decline in AIDS cases of 48% in the EU/EEA. From the beginning of the HIV epidemic to the end of 2012, a cumulative total of 334 299 individuals had been diagnosed with AIDS in the EU/EEA.