December 1, 2008
Copenhagen, Stockholm -- The HIV epidemic remains a major public health issue in Europe, with evidence of increasing transmission of HIV in several countries. Case reporting data from 2007 show that the number of newly reported cases in the WHO European Region continues to rise. Between 2000 and 2007, the annual rate of HIV infection has almost doubled, from 39 to 75 per million population.
Important new data submitted by countries to the new joint WHO/European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) database for HIV/AIDS surveillance, which will contribute to the work to reach the ambitious goal of universal access to prevention, treatment and care by 2010, were discussed at a recent meeting of the WHO Regional Office for Europe and the ECDC and are now available in a joint annual report on HIV/AIDS surveillance in Europe.1
The main findings of the surveillance report are as follows.
"Our main objective is to reverse the trend by increasing access to HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment and care. The number of countries that provide antiretroviral therapy (ART), one of the most cost-effective health interventions available, is increasing. Today, 38 of our 53 Member States provide ART to over 75% of the people living with HIV who need it," said Dr Nata Menabde, Deputy Regional Director, WHO Regional Office for Europe. "This improvement is, of course, encouraging, but there is no room for complacency. There are two issues that we should keep in mind. First, the number of new patients in central and eastern Europe is rising faster than the number of people with access to treatment. Second, strengthening the capacity of public health systems in all countries is the best defence against the HIV/AIDS epidemic," she added.
Zsuzsanna Jakab, Director of the ECDC, stated: "HIV/AIDS remains a major public health challenge for the whole of Europe. ECDC and the WHO Regional Office for Europe are working together closely to address this challenge. The publication of this report shows the value of our collaboration. The data show the diversity of the HIV epidemics in Europe and it shows that prevention should be targeted in different ways across countries. Nonetheless, one challenge faced by all countries is that many of the people living with HIV are unaware that they are infected. Reducing the barriers to HIV testing and counselling is a key priority for ECDC. We are currently gathering evidence on best practice in this area, with a view to developing guidance."
In addition to the surveillance report, detailed data and an analysis of the HIV/AIDS situation in each Member State are available on both the WHO Regional Office web site (www.euro.who.int/aids) and the ECDC website (www.ecdc.europa.eu).
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