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Last Updated: Friday, 23 November 2007, 10:47 GMT
UK HIV cases among top in Europe
Cell infected with HIV
Cases of HIV are rising in Europe
The rate of new cases of HIV/Aids in the UK is one of the highest in the European Union, a report shows.

There were 8,925 newly diagnosed cases last year, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control said.

At almost 149 cases per million inhabitants, the UK has the third highest rate of new infections behind Estonia and Portugal.

The figures come as the Health Protection Agency estimated 73,000 adults in the UK now have HIV.

The EU average is of new HIV infections is 67 cases per million.

The government has disregarded HIV in the UK for far too long
Deborah Jack, National Aids Trust

A recent report from UNAids revealed much lower estimates of HIV infection worldwide than had been previously believed - from nearly 40 million to 33 million.

But the number of cases of HIV in people living in Europe and parts of Asia have almost doubled in the past six years.


ECDC director Zsuzsanna Jakab said the true European figures are likely to be much higher it is estimated almost one third of people living with HIV in Europe are unaware they are infected.

"These people are less likely to take precautions against transmitting the virus, and are also unable to access treatment, and addressing this hidden epidemic is a priority for the ECDC," she said.

Highest EU rates of newly diagnosed HIV infections
Estonia - 504.2 per million
Portugal - 205 per million
UK - 148.8 per million
Latvia - 130.3 per million
Luxembourg - 118.9 per million

In raw figures the number of newly diagnosed cases reported in the UK last year is by far the highest at 8,925 followed by 5,750 in France and 2,718 in Germany.

But as a proportion of population, Estonia comes out top.

The lowest rate in the latest survey is in Slovakia, where 27 new HIV/AIDs cases were reported last year.

ECDC spokesperson, Ben Duncan, said in Western European countries like the UK and France one of the main drivers of new cases was people migrating from areas of the world with HIV epidemics.

"Another big driver has been the increase in cases among men who have sex with men.

Lowest EU rates of newly diagnosed HIV infections
Bulgaria - 11.9 per million
Czech Republic - 9.1 per million
Romania - 8.3 per million
Hungary - 8 per million
Slovakia - 5 per million

"Clearly, our prevention efforts are not having the desired effect - the safe sex message doesn't seem to be having the impact we would hope," he said.

Deborah Jack, chief executive of the National Aids Trust, said: "The UK rate of new diagnoses is one of the highest in Europe.

"We need to understand that this is in part due to improved HIV testing, but it remains the fact that there has been no reduction in the significant rate of HIV transmission amongst gay men and the rates of heterosexual infection continue to rise.

"The government has disregarded HIV in the UK for far too long - HIV must become a policy priority with significantly increased sums invested at the local level in HIV prevention amongst communities most affected."

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