Europe has seen 142,000 new infections of HIV this year, the virus which causes AIDS — the highest number in one year ever.
Although the rising rates of transmission due to heterosexual intercourse and careless use of unclean drug paraphernalia has been cited in the media as causing the rise, gay sex between men is still the main source of the virus spread.
Speaking of the rise in infections, World Health Organisation director for Europe Dr Zsuzsanna Jakab said: Despite all the efforts to fight HIV, this year the European Region has reached over 142,000 new HIV infections, the highest number ever… this is a serious concern”.
In a remarkable admission, the director named migrants travelling across Europe as being a particular risk for spreading HIV in the continent, reports The Independent. He blamed this on “social exclusion” felt by migrants which made them more likely to engage in risky behaviour, and the reluctance of many European nations to hand out free health care to transient populations.
A third of all new HIV diagnoses in Europe are to migrants and non-native Europeans, despite only accounting for a fraction of the population.
To help limit the spread of the potentially fatal virus, Dr. Jakab called on European nations to offer free HIV treatment to all, regardless of their origin and nationality. He said: “This is also the safest way to protect the resident population from HIV infection”.
The new report on HIV prevalence in Europe is co-authored by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), and director Andrea Ammon also has advice for the nations. She said the best way to prevent infection was to give free condoms to high risk groups — including migrants. Remaking on the report, Dr. Ammon said: “Europe has to scale up its efforts to reach out to this group.
“This includes looking at new strategies such as pre-exposure prophylaxis for HIV and access to care for EU citizens residing in other EU countries”.
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