The report from the European Center for Disease Control (ECDC) released in connection with World AIDS Day, states that HIV infection “continues to affect millions of people”.

“The number of women diagnosed decreased by 26 percent in the WHO European region, from 52,788 in 2013 to 39,070 in 2022 and the number of men diagnosed decreased by 21 percent, from 90,208 to 71,118”, indicates the report.

Last year, 110,496 HIV diagnoses were reported, the Majority in Eastern Europe (72 percent), particularly in Russia and Ukraine. The West and Center regions also reported cases (10 percent and 8 percent respectively).

In the countries of the European Economic Area (EEA), which includes the European Union (EU), 22,995 new diagnoses were reported.

The Who European region records more than 2.4 million cases diagnosed in the last 30 years and more than 620,000 people in the EU/EEA.

“The overall trend largely reflects the situation in Russia where diagnoses have declined by 31 percent since 2019. The remaining countries have seen significant variations, especially in 2022 when several nations saw dramatic increases in the number of diagnosed cases originating in Central and Eastern Europe, including previous positive cases”, the report notes.

On the other hand, a decrease of over 50 percent was recorded among men in Italy, Luxemburg, the Netherlands and Portugal. Among women, the greatest reduction was observed, between 2013 and 2022, in Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal and Romania.

The Who European region still recorded an increase of 4.2 percent compared to 2021, but diagnoses are 20.5 percent lower than in 2019, before the covid-19 pandemic. In the EU/EEA, cases increased by 30.8 percent between 2021 and 2022 but decreased compared to 2019.

“Several factors contribute to the differences in HIV infection trends between 2021 and 2022, including the resumption of surveillance activities, the expansion and introduction of new testing strategies in many countries, migration patterns, the lifting of Covid-19 restrictions and the influx of refugees, especially from Ukraine”, is highlighted.

Furthermore, according to the report, the increase in previous positive diagnoses played a significant role in defining the epidemiological profile of HIV in Europe, mainly in the EU/EEA and the Western region.

“Heterosexual contact has emerged as the prominent cause of HIV transmission in 2022, especially in women”, adding that, “despite a decline in HIV diagnoses among men (MSM) since 2014, there has been a slight increase in 2022, particularly among the MSM of migrant origin”.

With a late diagnosis, around half (50.6 percent in the WHO region, 47.9 percent in the EU/EEA) of people diagnosed in 2022 had “CD4 cell counts below 350 per mm3”.

HIV transmission among people who inject drugs continues to remain at a low level in most EU/EEA countries, with a small increase in the number of diagnosed cases observed in 2022.

“This increase is significantly lower than those observed in other modes of transmission, thanks to the presence of well-established signs and effective harm reduction programs in most EU/EEA countries. This slight increase could be attributed to previous positive diagnoses, as 24.4 percent of all individuals infected through drug injection fall into this category”, indicates the document.

This slight increase was recorded in most EU/EEA countries, although Austria, Cyprus, Greece, Portugal and Romania saw a decline of more than 30 percent.

Ten countries, including Portugal, consistently reported data on HIV testing performed between 2013 and 2022, excluding unlinked anonymous testing and blood donation testing.