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Conferencia sobre VIH en Europa se enfoca en la explosión de casos del VIH en Europa del Este

HIV conference in Europe sets focus on explosion of HIV cases in Eastern Europe

The HIV-situation in Europe is getting out of hand.
A voluntary group of 350 European HIV and AIDS experts have joined forces along with AIDS Action Europe, the University of Copenhagen, WHO and the British HIV Association to organize one of the largest-ever conferences on HIV in Brussels. The conference will unite policy-makers with medical professionals and focus attention on the need for consistent, targeted action in improving treatment for the millions of HIV patients in Europe. It is hoped that by bringing together legal experts and government health professionals, the conference can influence the political process and bring about change in the way governments deal with their local HIV populations.
“We have organized the conference in response to a worrying peak in infections. HIV cases in Western and Central Europe have doubled in the last ten years, while the second highest rate of new infection occurred in 2006.We estimate that over 50% of the European population are carrying the virus, but remain unaware of their own status,” said Professor Jens Lundgren from the University of Copenhagen.

Critical in this calculation is the number of new HIV cases in Eastern Europe. While around 800,000 people are infected with the disease in Western and Central Europe, there are an estimated 1, 6 million cases of HIV infection in Eastern Europe, and around 200,000 new cases expected to emerge each year.

Medical experts are concerned by the general reluctance in Eastern Europe to deal with the problem at a political level and cite recent legal manoeuvres in the region to negatively target vulnerable groups. One example of this is a new Russian law which forbids drug users from receiving treatment for their habit. The law, according to a report by Human Rights Watch, means that users are more likely to use dirty needles and are at serious risk of contracting a host of diseases. Additionally, there is still poor access to the antiretroviral drugs, which have saved lives elsewhere.

The combination of restrictions on treatment and a large European population unaware of their HIV status could, however, lead to serious health risks for us all, according to Professor Jens Lundgren, who is co-chairing the conference. “The greater the number of individuals infected with the disease, the more likely it is that the infection will continue to spread. As well as this, the general population may be at risk of contracting diseases related to HIV, such as Tuberculosis.”

HIV reduces the capacity of individuals to ward off other diseases, because their own immune systems are debilitated, and thus they can easily contract and transmit diseases to people not infected by HIV. Scientists know that diseases such as Tuberculosis which were previously thought to have been eradicated from Europe have made a come-back.

Commissioner Kyprianos of Greece will address the conference, which has also received endorsement by the European Commission and the European Parliament. The conference, which will attempt to get more people tested and into care during the early stages of their infection, will be held on the 25th – 27th November in Brussels. Following the opening, there will also be a press conference on Monday 26th November at 9am.

Conference Topics include:
HIV in Europe: how are we as a continent dealing with the virus – a multi-country analysis
Getting people into care: Working Together to bring policy, clinical practice and patient support to bear on affecting change in Europe
The law and testing: legal implications of testing and diagnosis across Europe
To test or not to test: psychosocial perspective of testing
For further information please contact:

Professor Jens D. Lundgren
Copenhagen HIV Programme
Department for International Health and Immunology
The Faculty of Health Sciences, Copenhagen University
Email: jdl@cphiv.dk
Tel: + 45 35 45 57 57

HIV/AIDS expert, Jeffrey V. Lazarus
World Health Organisation, Regional Office for Europe
Email: jla@euro.who.int
Tel: + 45 39 17 13 41

Information Officer
Sandra Szivos
Faculty of Health Sciences
University of Copenhagen
Email: sasz@sund.ku.dk
Tel: + 45 35 32 70 69

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