The number of people newly diagnosed with HIV in Europe reached its highest level in 2016 since the statistics began , showing that the epidemic in the region is growing at an “alarming rate” health officials said on Tuesday .
Last year, 160,000 people contracted the virus that causes AIDS in the 53 countries that make up the European region for the World Health Organization (WHO ), the agency said in a joint report with the European Center for Prevention and Control. of Diseases (ECDC by its abbreviation in English).
This is the largest number of cases registered in a single year. If this trend continues, we will not be able to achieve the goal of eradicating the HIV epidemic by 2030, “WHO regional director for Europe Zsuzsanna Jakab said in a statement.
The trend is particularly worrisome, said the organizations, because many of the patients had been carriers of the virus for many years when they were diagnosed, which makes it difficult to keep the virus under control and increases the chances that it has infected others.
An early diagnosis of HIV is important because it allows patients to start treatment with AIDS drugs earlier, increasing their likelihood of having a long and healthy life.
Europe needs to do more in terms of its response to HIV, “said the director of the ECDC, Andrea Ammon, who added that on average people take about three years to be diagnosed since they contract the infection, which is too long.
The report said new strategies were needed to expand the reach of HIV testing, including self-diagnostic services and testing provided by non-specialized providers.
Nearly 37 million people in the world carry the human immunodeficiency virus that causes AIDS. The majority of cases are found in poor regions, such as Africa, where access to testing, prevention and treatment is more limited, but the HIV epidemic has also shown signs of resistance in more affluent regions, such as Europe.