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Brussels, 30 November 2012
Q&A: The Fight Against HIV/AIDS by the EU
What are the latest figures on HIV/AIDS in the EU and neighbouring countries?
Today, on the eve of World AIDS Day, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) and the World Health Organisation Regional Office for Europe (WHO Euro) have released their joint report "HIV/AIDS Surveillance in Europe 2011", with the latest data on HIV/AIDS cases in the EU and neighbouring countries.
In 2011, there were more than 28,000 new HIV infections reported in EU and EEA countries. HIV epidemics were concentrated among key populations: men who have sex with men (Western Europe), people who inject drugs (Eastern Europe) and people originating from countries with generalised HIV epidemics. In addition, HIV infection rates are still expanding in Eastern neighbouring countries.
Overall, the new surveillance data demonstrates no decline in HIV transmissions. While the number of new infections has remained stable in the European Union - between 27000 and 29000 new HIV cases per year in 2006-2011 - the total number of people living with HIV is increasing across Europe. The most recent increase of HIV among people who inject drugs illustrates that even low numbers of HIV infections can rapidly evolve into an outbreak when public health interventions are insufficient.
What is the situation regarding HIV/AIDS in the world?
Sub-Saharan Africa is the region most affected by the disease and is home to 69% of all people living with HIV worldwide and 91% of all new infections among children. AIDS is the leading cause of death in sub-Saharan Africa and the fourth-leading cause of death worldwide.
Since the beginning of the epidemic, more than 60 million people worldwide have been infected with HIV and more than 30 million people have died from AIDS. Today, more than 34 million people are living with HIV/AIDS.
More than eight million people in low and middle income countries receive life-saving antiretroviral treatment, but another seven million people still do not have access to this. Globally in low and middle income countries, 54% of people in need benefitted from antiretroviral therapy in 2011, including 56% in Sub-Saharan Africa.
The most recent figures of UNAIDS (the joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS) reveal that in 2011 about 7,000 people were infected by HIV infections each day, out of which 800 were children under the age of 15 years. The vast majority of infected people – about 97% - live in low and middle income countries.
Despite an overall decrease in the number of new infections, the total number of people living with HIV worldwide continues to grow (partly due to increased survival because of increased coverage with anti-retroviral treatment).
How is the European Commission involved in the fight against HIV/AIDS?
A number of policies and funds contribute to fighting HIV/AID, on a complementary fashion.
Development policy and funding
Health policy, agencies and funding
What are the main challenges remaining in Europe?
Firstly, in several European regions there remains a shortfall in structures, means and/or access to HIV prevention, testing and treatment. Secondly, the expanding HIV epidemic in neighbouring countries is very worrying and needs to be curtailed. Finally, there is still stigma and discrimination in Europe directed at people living with HIV/AIDS, which drives people away from seeking help and care, fuelling an increase in HIV transmission. To address this issue, the Commission is organising a conference on "HIV/AIDS and human rights" in May 2013, in cooperation with UNAIDS and with support of members of the European Parliament.
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