March 20, 2003
The number of women being diagnosed with HIV in Europe is quickly catching up with men, raising the risk of more babies being born to infected mothers, researchers warned Wednesday. ISIS Research Plc, a health care market research agency, said its analysis of HIV figures showed just how fast this was happening in Europe, even though in the United States homosexual transmission remains the dominant route of infection.
ISIS analyzed 3,000 European patients on HIV therapy from July-October 2002 and found 308 patients had been newly diagnosed with HIV earlier that year. Of these, 51 percent were infected through heterosexual contact and only 36 percent as a result of homosexual contact. Yet, ten years ago, the transmission routes were 28 percent heterosexual and 38 percent homosexual. ISIS examined 3,000 US patients and found that new HIV diagnoses were 51 percent homosexual and 31 percent heterosexual by route of infection.
ISIS analyst Amanda Zeffman said that numerous factors, including different ethnic origins and awareness campaigns, account for the differences in the epidemic between Europe and the United States. The gap is narrowing, however, as more US heterosexuals become infected.
On a positive note, the report said initiatives to supply sterile needles to drug users seemed to be effective, with HIV transmission via intravenous drug use now almost eradicated in France, Germany and the United Kingdom and significantly reduced in Spain and Italy. However, in the United States, where initiatives are less widespread, infection rates have dropped less.
03.19.03; Richard Woodman