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According to a report, HIV diagnoses are highest in Eastern Europe

The number of new HIV diagnoses in the region continued to increase in 2017, but the pace of the increase is slowing, according to the report of the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control and the WHO Regional Office for Europe. Even so, almost 160,000 people were recently diagnosed with the disease in the region in 2017. More than 130,000 of those diagnoses were made in the eastern region of Europe, the most reported there.

The rate in the East (51.1 new cases diagnosed by 100,000 people) was "disproportionately higher" than in the West, which had a rate of 6.4 new cases per 100,000 people, according to the report he found. The Central European rate was 3.2 diagnoses per 100,000 people.

Rates were highest in Russia, where 71 new cases were diagnosed per 100,000 people in 2017, followed by Ukraine and Belarus.

As a result, the region is not on track to meet the goal 90-90-90 by 2020, as established by WHO and the Joint United Nations Program on HIV / AIDS.

On the front lines of Russia & # 39; s & # 39; staggering & # 39; HIV epidemic

The goal is to diagnose 90% of all HIV-positive people, provide antiretroviral therapy for 90% of people diagnosed and achieve viral suppression for 90% of people treated.

The goal is part of the sustainable development goal of eliminating HIV in Europe and around the world by the year 2030.

"We are very far from achieving those goals, particularly in Eastern Europe and Central Asia," said Dr. Masoud Dara, coordinator of the communicable diseases and HIV team at WHO Europe.

"The significance in this report is that we can see a big difference between Eastern Europe and the European Union where the number of people infected with HIV is decreasing."

To meet the goal, new infections would have to decrease by 78% by 2020, according to the report.

In the last three decades, more than 2.32 million people have been diagnosed with HIV in Europe. According to WHO, 36.9 million people were living with HIV worldwide in 2017. Africa, where the estimated number of people living with HIV is 25.7 million, was the most affected.

Improve HIV testing

Dara said there were multiple factors behind the HIV rate in Eastern Europe, the most important being the lack of prevention.

"The most important thing is to make sure that people (injecting drug users, sex workers and men who have sex with men) have good preventive measures in place," said Dara.

"For injecting drug users, they need to have clear needle exchange programs – we do not have many of these in Eastern European countries, unlike in Western Europe," he said, adding that early testing for HIV should also be done. . as a treatment

PrEP can & # 39; significantly & # 39; A study notes that reducing HIV rates in populations

"The treatment has proven to be a prevention," he explained, and helps suppress the virus, preventing people from infecting others.

According to the report, intravenous drug use and heterosexual contact were the most common forms of HIV transmission in eastern Europe. Sex between men was the most responsible for transmission in the European Union and the European Economic Area.

In a statement, the WHO Regional Director for Europe, Zsuzsanna Jakab, called on governments to "expand their response now."

The report calls on governments to do this by "adapting interventions to those most at risk" and investing in prevention, testing and treatment.

Everyone is at risk

Dr. Anton Pozniak, president of the International AIDS Society, said there must be an approach to eliminate the stigma surrounding the diagnosis of HIV.

Increase in the diagnosis of HIV among people over 50 in Europe.

"Policies that reduce social marginalization, stigma and discrimination are needed, as well as more funding for prevention and testing," Pozniak said in a statement.

"In the East, particularly in Russia, the shift from progressive policies to socially conservative legislation is a barrier to implementing HIV prevention and treatment."

Dara said that heterosexual contact and intravenous drug use among the most commonly reported means of transmission in the east, it is important for everyone to realize that they could be at risk of infection.

"No one should think: I'll never have HIV," he said. "That's very important, and we have to make sure that people go to the exams at all levels."

Pozniak reiterated that there could be a change in who are the most affected by HIV in Russia.

"People who inject drugs account for the largest proportion of new diagnoses of any key population with 48.8%, but heterosexual sex can soon overtake the use of injecting drugs as the main means of HIV transmission," he said.

"This is a potential change to affect mainly key populations to affect the population in general."

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