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HIV casesthey grew by 30.8% in 2022 compared to the previous year in the European Union (EU) and the European Economic Area (EEA), although it must be taken into account that the figures remain unchanged below those recorded before the pandemic Covid-19.
This is one of the highlights of the HIV report that the European Center for Disease Control (ECDC) and the European Office of the World Health Organization (WHO) published jointly this Tuesday, just a few days before let it be celebrated World AIDS Day.
According to the document, last year in the EU/EEA there were notifications 22,995 HIV caseswhich is 3.8% less than the data recorded in 2019. The largest increases occurred in Cyprus (24%) and Estonia (19%), while Slovenia (2%) recorded the most moderate increase of all countries members.
As Andrea Ammon, director of the European organization, explained in a press conference, the increase in diagnoses registered last year is due to a host of factors that are not related to a higher incidence, such as the reestablishment of surveillance measures after the pandemic, the introduction and expansion of new screening strategies in many countries, the lifting of Covid restrictions, as well as the arrival of refugees, mainly from Ukraine. “We do not believe that the increase recorded reflects an increase in transmission. There is evidence that we are going in the right direction, although it is still not enough,” Ammon stressed.
2.4 million cases since the start of the epidemic in Europe
In addition to the EU, the document focuses on the entire European region of the WHO, which includes 53 passports, including Russia. The continent’s photograph shows that 110,486 new HIV diagnoses were reported in 2022, 72% of them in Eastern Europe. In fact, the document highlights the significant figures that occur in the Russian Federation and Ukraine. Across the region, new diagnoses detected in 2022 They are 4.2% higher than in 2021, but as in the EU, if the figures are compared with those of 2019, a drop of 20.5% is observed.
In the last three decades, more than 2.4 million cases of HIV have been recorded across the European continent (more than 620,000 in the EU).
As the work highlights, the Heterosexual relationships are emerging as an important route of HIV transmission, especially in women, although in the last year there has also been a slight increase in diagnoses among men who had sex with other men.
The study also reflects that almost half of the cases, both in the entire region and in the EU/EEA, were diagnosed late, which Ammon described as a challenge.
In that sense, the director of the ECDC appealed to the importance of involving local communities and civil society organizations in the prevention and fight against HIV, an objective that UNAIDS also highlighted in a new report published on the occasion of the upcoming celebration of World AIDS Day on December 1.
The UN body wanted to “urge governments around the world to unleash the power of local communities to lead the fight to end AIDS.”
“We can ensure that AIDS stops being a threat to public health before 2030”Luisa Cabal, director of the UNAIDS Office for Latin America and the Caribbean, tells EL MUNDO. “We are in the last mile and we believe it is possible, but we also make a wake-up call, because complacency is not the way to continue in the six years left until that date,” she emphasizes.
This year, on World AIDS Day, from UNAIDS “we want to honor and celebrate the role that communities, organizations and civil society have had in these decades. Thanks to them, great achievements have been achieved, such as that the price of antiretrovirals be reduced and we want to honor them at the same time that we want to send a very clear message: we are not supporting them in the way we should,” he claims.
Proof of this lack of support, Cabal continues, is that “in the last 10 years, funding to these communities has decreased, which has gone from 32% in 2012 to only 20% in 2021“. This has implications, “because communities are the social fabric that allows prevention messages to be delivered or empower the most vulnerable people. There must be support and empowerment for communities if we want to reach the 2030 goals,” he adds.
From his point of view, this support has to come from financing, but also from addressing “the obstacles and restrictions that are being imposed in many societies for civil society to operate.”
In recent years, he reflects, “many donor priorities have changed. The geopolitical sphere tells us that there are other types of priorities and in this context it is not seen as essential to continue supporting these organizations and communities, when it is a mistake. We We want to remind governments and donors that these communities have not only played a fundamental role in the face of HIV, but also in the face of Covid-19. These same communities that were already established were the ones that in many cases allowed us to reach those affected by the coronavirus. and that they get tested or have access to food. In this world there are many issues to address, but It is not the time to abandon this response to HIV in which we have invested so much. Quite the opposite. “The response to new pandemics also lies in strengthening communities, this social fabric.”
“The great fear, which is why we give the red alert, is that a step backwards will occur. For example, in Latin America, contrary to the global trend and even that of Sub-Saharan Africa, where new infections are being reduced, produced an 8% increase in infections. It is an example that if we are not alert, if we do not really set the goal of ending AIDS as a public health challenge, we are going to go back,” concludes Cabal.
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