The World Health Organization (WHO) and the EU health agency on Wednesday reported that many people are living with HIV in Europe without being diagnosed.
The WHO Regional Office for Europe in a press release ahead of Dec. 1, which marked World AIDS Day, said the stigma still surrounding the virus that caused AIDS was to blame.
According to new data, since 2018 to 2021, more people became infected with HIV in the European Region than had been diagnosed.
The WHO European Region included more than 50 countries, including Russia, Ukraine and Turkiye.
According to the report, the number of undiagnosed HIV cases in the European Economic Area (EEA), which includes Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway on top of the European Union member states is on the increase.
By comparison, some 12.5 per cent of HIV cases in the EEA were still not diagnosed, the report said.
WHO Regional Director for Europe Hans Kluge said “we should all be deeply concerned by the data on HIV testing, treatment and care. Continuing, the widespread stigma around HIV is deterring people from getting tested and is steering us dangerously off course from meeting our 2030 goal of ending AIDS.’’
The WHO also called for HIV services to be made more accessible. “we must work together to make sure that no one feels afraid of getting tested, nor shame, despair or isolation about their status. Everyone everywhere should be able to get the services and respectful care they need,” Kulge said.
Andrea Ammon, director of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), highlighted the importance of HIV testing, saying those who are diagnosed late “have higher chances of severe illness and even death.”
She also stressed the dangers for public health, saying “untreated positive individuals can unknowingly pass on HIV to their sexual partners.”
In 2021, some 300 new HIV diagnoses were made daily across 46 of the 53 countries in Europe, including 45 each day in EEA countries, according to the WHO.
The international body said it amounted to 106,508 new diagnoses reported in Europe and 16,624 in the EU over the entire year. (dpa/NAN)