New HIV diagnoses at alarmingly high levels in the European Region despite progress in EU/EEA
With nearly 160 000 people newly diagnosed with HIV, 2017 marked another year of alarming numbers of new HIV diagnoses in the WHO European Region. Encouragingly, the overall increasing trend is not as steep as before. The eastern part of the Region recorded over 130 000 new HIV diagnoses, the highest number ever. In contrast, the European Union and European Economic Area (EU/EEA) countries reported a decline in rates of new diagnoses, mainly driven by a 20% decrease since 2015 among men who have sex with men.
The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) and the WHO Regional Office for Europe release the latest data on the HIV epidemic in the European Region, marking the 30th anniversary of World AIDS Day.
Vytenis Andriukaitis, the European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, said: “Despite our efforts, HIV still damages the lives of so many people, and causes not only much suffering and illness, but also discrimination and stigmatisation. A lot of progress has been made, but there is still much more we must do. We need to capitalise on the full potential of our joint and sustained actions, as well as increased collaboration with our partners across borders if we want to achieve the Sustainable Development Goal of eliminating HIV – in Europe and worldwide – by 2030. We must overcome the stigma of HIV infection and treatment and continue our efforts in dispelling false beliefs about how HIV and AIDS are spread. It is important for our public health services to support easy and affordable access to testing and medical care for vulnerable groups at risk of HIV infection”.
“It is an important signal for Europe’s HIV response that we see a decline in new HIV diagnoses in the EU/EEA. Especially since we see this drop among men who have sex with men. This was the only population in the EU/EEA that experienced constant increases in reported HIV cases during the past decade”, stresses ECDC Director Andrea Ammon. “There are several reasons that can explain the decline across the EU/EEA. They include successful programmes to offer more frequent and targeted HIV testing to promote earlier diagnosis. 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. This decline also shows that a stronger focus on addressing and including vulnerable populations in the HIV response, as outlined in new ECDC testing guidance, makes the difference.”
“It’s hard to talk about good news in the face of another year of unacceptably high numbers of people infected with HIV. While efforts to prevent new HIV infections are gradually showing signs of progress, we are not on course to meet the 90–90–90 targets by the 2020 deadline. 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. “To support people living with HIV and protect those at higher risk of infection, we need to fast track action by tailoring interventions. This means investing wisely in prevention, testing and treatment particularly in key populations to end the AIDS epidemic as we promised.”
- The increase in new HIV diagnoses continued for the WHO European Region as a whole, but its pace was slower than in previous years. One reason for the persistent HIV epidemic in Europe is that late diagnosis remains a challenge across the whole Region. Every second person diagnosed with HIV has already reached an advanced stage in the infection.
- With over 130 000 new HIV diagnoses in 2017, the eastern part of the Region observed a rate of increase of 68% in 2008–2017, compared with 95% in 2007–2016. In the central part of the Region, the increase was 121% compared with 142% respectively.
- Of new HIV diagnoses in the eastern part of the Region, 59% are reported to be from heterosexual transmission. Data need to be carefully considered as they depend on the transmission mode reported by the individuals.
- Men are suffering disproportionately from HIV across the entire Region: 70% of new HIV diagnoses are in men.
- In 2017, over 25 000 people were diagnosed with HIV in 30 of the 31 countries of the EU/EEA. This translates into a decline from a rate of 6.9 per 100 000 population in 2008, to 6.2 per 100 000 in 2017.
- The overall decline in the EU/EEA resulted primarily from a 20% drop in new diagnoses among men who have sex with men between 2015 and 2017, which remains the predominant mode of HIV transmission (38% in 2017) in this part of Europe. There was also a reduction in diagnoses attributed to heterosexual transmissions involving people from countries with generalised HIV epidemics.
- Despite this measurable progress in reducing the number of new HIV diagnoses, overall rates continue to increase in about one third of EU/EEA countries.
- The number of AIDS cases continued to decline in the Region as a whole. In the eastern part, the situation has begun to stabilise, and numbers of AIDS cases between 2012 and 2017 declined by 7%. In the EU/EEA, 9 out of 10 (89%) AIDS diagnoses in 2017 happened within only 90 days of the HIV diagnosis, indicating that the majority of AIDS cases in the EU/EEA could have been avoided with early diagnosis.
Revamping political commitment: the game changers
The momentum to revamp political commitment to end AIDS by 2030 has never been so strong in the European Region.
The ministerial policy dialogue on HIV organized by WHO in cooperation with the Government of the Netherlands and the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) in Amsterdam in July 2018, registered the highest ministerial attendance ever recorded at such a meeting, with 11 ministers or deputy ministers of health attending. Participants expressed governments’ firm commitment to scale up efforts to implement the Action Plan for the Health Sector Response to HIV in the WHO European Region and achieve the 90-90-90 targets. As a result, country-specific roadmaps are in development to reinforce a common agenda among key policy-makers, partners, funders and implementers.
Another recent milestone towards ending AIDS is the United Nations Common Position on Ending HIV, TB and Viral Hepatitis through Intersectoral Collaboration launched at the 73rd Session of the United Nations General Assembly on 27 September 2018. For the first time, 14 United Nations agencies have joined forces to end the epidemics of the European Region deadliest communicable diseases. The Common Position, coordinated by WHO, is an unprecedented step by the United Nations to scale up efforts by 2030, as demanded by SDG 3.
Latest News from
Agreement on new rules to fight non cash payment fraud12/12/2018 16:33:00
The EU is stepping up the fight against fraud involving non-cash means of payment (credit cards, online shopping, etc.) by upgrading and modernising the existing rules.
EC approves acquisition of Gemalto by Thales, subject to conditions12/12/2018 15:25:00
The EC has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the proposed acquisition of Gemalto by Thales. The approval is conditional on the divestment of Thales' general purpose hardware security modules business.
EC welcomes the adoption of stronger rules to stop cyber-criminals12/12/2018 14:47:00
The European Parliament and the Council reached political agreement on the EC’s proposal to strengthen rules to combat fraud and counterfeiting of non-cash means of payment – such as bank cards, cheques, mobile payments and virtual currencies.
EC launches Circular Plastics Alliance to foster the market of recycled plastics in Europe12/12/2018 14:10:00
The EC has launched an alliance of key industry stakeholders covering the full plastics value chain as part of its persisting efforts to reduce plastics littering, increase the share of recycled plastics and stimulate market innovation.
VAT: New details on rules for e-commerce presented12/12/2018 13:38:00
The EChas announced new detailed measures that will pave the way for a smooth transition to new VAT (Value-Added Tax) rules for e-commerce that come into force in January 2021.
Council endorses agreement on EU budget for 201912/12/2018 12:25:00
On 11 December 2018, the Council endorsed the agreement reached with the European Parliament on the EU budget for 2019.
Exchanging criminal records: EU agrees a reformed ECRIS system12/12/2018 11:10:00
The EU is introducing new rules to improve the way member states exchange information on convictions of third country nationals.
EDPS welcomes adoption of new data protection rules for EU institutions12/12/2018 10:37:00
The adoption of new data protection rules for the EU institutions and bodies represents another vital step forward in the development of a comprehensive EU framework for data protection in the digital age, the European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS) has said.
EU negotiators agree on strengthening Europe's cybersecurity11/12/2018 15:25:00
The European Parliament, the Council and the EC have reached a political agreement on the Cybersecurity Act which reinforces the mandate of the EU Agency for Cybersecurity, (European Union Agency for Network and Information and Security, ENISA) so as to better support Member States with tackling cybersecurity threats and attacks.