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HIV infections up 8% across Europe

A report published by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) and the WHO (World Health Organization) Europe showed a rise of new HIV infections.

In 2012 Europe and nearby countries had a startling 8 percent increase from the previous year, with the majority of the new cases coming from Eastern Europe and Central Asia.

According to the data released by the ECDC and WHO, there were 131,000 new infections in 2012 with a nine-percent increase in the Eastern Europe and Central Asia region which accounted for 102,000 new infections — with nearly 76,000 of them coming from Russian Federation alone.

While new HIV infections in the European Union, including Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway, rose by less than one percent.

AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome) cases have been steadily declining in Western Europe - dropping almost 48 percent between 2006 and 2012, while in the other regions the newly diagnosed cases of the disease caused by HIV has increased by 113 percent.

Experts believe that this increase is closely linked to a lack of prevention measures for people at high risk of contracting the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) that causes AIDS, and the difficulty of obtaining antiretroviral therapy (ART) for those who test positive.

According to the report, only one in three people in need of anti-retroviral therapy was receiving it last year, despite improved figures compared to 2011.

"Our data show that nearly every second person tested positive for HIV (in the region) - that's 49 percent - is diagnosed late in the course of their infection, which means they need antiretroviral therapy right away because their immune system is already starting to fail," said the ECDC's director Marc Sprenger.

“This shows that we need to make HIV testing more available across Europe to ensure earlier diagnosis and more effective treatment and care.”

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