October 5, 2005
The Robert Koch Institute (RKI), Germany's central disease control center, recently released a statement saying that the country's number of HIV infections is rising. Representing a 20 percent increase over the first half of 2004, cases in the first six months of 2005 numbered 1,164.
"The German health minister considers this a serious development and says the rise in HIV infections is worrying," ministry spokesperson Dagmar Reitenbach told a government news conference. "Unfortunately, it is often the case that HIV/AIDS is no longer taken seriously as a life-threatening disease."
RKI President Reinhard Kurth stressed the necessity of clearly explaining to the public that HIV cannot be cured, and it gradually destroys the immune systems of those who are infected. "More efforts must be made to explain and inform people that despite an improvement in therapy, there is no cure for this disease," Kurth said.
The institute said men who have sex with men (MSM) accounted for close to 60 percent of new HIV infections. "The risk of HIV infection for male homosexual contact in Germany is nearly twice what it was 12 years ago," said RKI. It noted that the HIV risk for males was nearly 7.5 times greater than for women in Germany. Most new HIV infections occurred among males ages 25-45.
The most significant high-risk factor for women in Germany is sexual contact with males from high-risk groups: men from countries with high HIV/AIDS prevalence, intravenous drug users and MSM.
According to the institute, the country's large urban centers; Berlin, Hamburg, Munich, Cologne, and Frankfurt, had the highest HIV risk.