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International News

AIDS on the Rise in Eastern Europe

July 8, 2003

Addressing the annual meeting of the German AIDS Foundation this week in Berlin, Reinhard Kurth, president of the Robert Koch Institute, warned that the share of HIV-infected youth in Eastern Europe is twice as high as it is in the West. More than 75 percent of those infected in Eastern Europe are younger than 30, he said, while UN figures show that HIV infections have risen to 1.2 million in the last four years. And the disease only reached the region relatively recently, Kurth said. "The spread of HIV started in the Ukraine and Belorussia in the middle of the 90s," he said.

The disease seems to have been spreading faster than in Western Europe, where less than half that number of people have become infected since the first outbreak in the early 1980s. HIV is also threatening to spread to further east and northern regions, said Kurth, who named the central Asian and Caucasus regions as newly affected areas.

Germany recorded approximately 40,000 cases of HIV infection at the end of last year, with new infections estimated at around 2,000 a year.

Of particular concern is the increase in the share of women infected. Female cases of HIV infection rose from around 12 percent to 25 percent over the last ten years, with most cases thought to have been heterosexually contracted.

The German AIDS Foundation meeting heard from doctors who have contributed to reducing mother-to-child HIV transmission in the country from between 20 percent and 25 percent to between 1 percent and 2 percent. They reported that crucial factors to preventing such transmission included treating the pregnant women with antiretroviral medication during the pregnancy as well as delivering the baby two weeks before the due date, via cesarean section.

Back to other CDC news for July 8, 2003

Previous Updates

Adapted from:
Reuters Health
07.07.03; Hannah Cleaver

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This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
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