Tuesday, 13 December 2016

One in Seven Nigerians in Europe is HIV Positive--Research

Image result for picture of Nigerians travelling to EuropeIN Europe where about 0.4 per cent of people have HIV, a new surveillance report shows that one in seven people in the region do not know they are HIV-positive. The report, from the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) highlights the problem of HIV in the European Union/European Economic Area, EU/EEA, countries and notes that an estimated 122,000 people in the EU/EEA region are currently unknowingly living with HIV.  Over the last decade, according to the report, the overall rate of new HIV diagnoses dropped from 6.6 cases per 100,000 people in 2006, to 6.3 cases per 100,000 in 2016. Of the 2.1 million new HIV cases that occurred worldwide in 2015, 29,747 occurred in the 31 countries of the EU/EEA, with Estonia, Latvia, and Malta reporting the highest rates of new HIV cases while Slovakia, Slovenia, and the Czech Republic recorded the lowest rates. According to the European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, Vytenis Andriukaitis, the ECDC’s estimate that one in seven people living with HIV are unaware of their status is particularly worrying. “People who do not know they are infected cannot benefit from life-saving treatment, and can continue to transmit the virus to others. This is why easy and accessible testing is so important. “The European Commission supports HIV testing by working together with Member States and civil society on joint projects, funded by the EU Health Programme, on prevention and linkage to care.” Few months back, new guidelines on HIV self-testing released by the World Health Organisation, observed that people who are undiagnosed are missing out on the important recommended antiretroviral treatment.. The ECDC report cited these guidelines to call for more innovative self-testing approaches as part of an overall strategy to make it easier for undiagnosed individuals to access HIV testing services in European countries. ECDC Acting Director Andrea Ammon stated: “To reach the estimated 15 per cent who are not aware of their infection, we need to increase efforts to promote and facilitate more testing for HIV. And link those diagnosed to care. “A simple and quick blood test allows people to determine their HIV status. It’s best to know your HIV status so you can take care of your own health – and also protect others. ECDC is currently supporting Member States to standardise and improve their national estimates regarding the number of people living with HIV. This should lead to a more effective HIV response, because it enables better targeting of resources at the populations they identify as being most at risk in that country.” The report also calls for better prevention efforts and intervention strategies to control the HIV epidemic in Europe, and to help those who are diagnosed with HIV gain access to treatment.

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