The human immunodeficiency virus continues to plague Europe as the number of people diagnosed with the disease has increased, according to a report released days before World Aids Day.

The HIV epidemic that has been harrowing Europe, particularly the eastern region, is alarming as stated in the report by the World Health Organization and the European Centre of Disease Prevention and Control.

Teams from both organizations released the figures indicating the number of people that have been infected by the sexually transmitted disease for the past year. The good news is the agencies said that the rate at which HIV diagnoses increased in 2017 slowed down. However, this is outweighed by the fact that last year’s numbers ballooned to 160,000 new cases, with 130,000 coming from Eastern Europe, a record high for the region.

In the East, there are 51.1 new HIV cases in 100,000 people, which is far more than the 6.4 new diagnoses for the same number of people in the West. The Central region, meanwhile, has 3.2 new cases per 100,000 people.

Reason For The Increase In HIV Cases

The increase in HIV cases across Eastern Europe is mostly attributed to the insufficiency of preventive measures, Masoud Dara of WHO Europe revealed. Injecting drugs and heterosexual intercourse are the most common reasons for the transmission of the disease in this region. Man-to-man sex, meanwhile, is the main cause in the European Economic Area and the European Union.

“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,” said Zsuzsanna Jakab, WHO regional director.

90-90-90 Goal

The ambitious target hopes to determine 90 percent of those with HIV, give antiretroviral drugs to 90 percent of those who are positive of the disease, and eventually suppress the virus for the 90 percent of those who receive treatment. However, Dara said the current state is far from reaching this target. To meet the goal, HIV cases should decline by 78 percent in 2020.

Furthermore, Jakab called on the government to take the matter seriously and implement actions to address the alarming issue. She suggested allotting sufficient budget for prevention, diagnosing, and treatment, especially in places with a high number of HIV cases.

Vytenis Andriukaitis, the European commissioner for Health and Food Safety, reiterated that stigma and discrimination against HIV-positives should be defeated.

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