Während in Europa HIV
Infektionen über infizierte Injektionsnadeln dank der verbreiteten
Ausgabe steriler Nadeln an Drogenabhängige nahezu ausgerottet
wurden, stieg die Zahl der durch heterosexuelle
Kontakte infizierten Patienten weiter auf derzeit 51%
Half of HIV Cases Spread Heterosexually in Europe
Wed Mar 19,11:24 AM ET
By Richard Woodman
LONDON (Reuters Health) - Researchers warned on Wednesday that
the number of women being diagnosed with HIV (news - web sites)
in Europe was quickly catching up with men, carrying with it the
risk of more babies being born to infected mothers.
The healthcare market research agency, Isis Research Plc, said
its analysis of HIV figures showed just how fast this was happening
in Europe even though in the United States
homosexual transmission remained the dominant route of infection.
The agency looked at data on 3,000 European patients on anti-HIV
therapy from July to October 2002 and found that 308
of these patients had been newly diagnosed with HIV earlier that
Of these, just over half (51 percent) were
infected through heterosexual contact and only 36 percent as a
result of homosexual contact. This was in stark contrast
to the picture 10 years ago, when the split was 28 percent heterosexual
against 38 percent homosexual.
However, in the United States, where ISIS also examined data on
3,000 patients, infections via homosexual contact accounted for
51 percent of new HIV diagnoses against 31 percent heterosexual.
ISIS HIV analyst Amanda Zeffman told Reuters Health that numerous
factors including different ethnic origins and awareness campaigns
accounted for the differences between Europe and the U.S. However
the gap was narrowing as more heterosexuals
became infected with HIV in the U.S.
The report said that in Europe the number
of females being diagnosed with HIV was "fast catching up
with the number of males. This rise in female patients
carries with it the risk of a rise in the number of babies born
to HIV infected mothers and in turn brings potential issues such
as which treatments to use or avoid during pregnancy and at the
time of birth to prevent transmission of the virus to the baby."
On a positive note, the report said initiatives to supply drug
users with sterile needles seemed to have been effective in Europe,
with HIV transmission via intravenous
drug use now almost eradicated in France, Germany and the UK and
significantly reduced in Spain and Italy. However in
the U.S., where needle exchange programs were less widespread,
infection rates had dropped less.
"Europe has come a long way toward minimizing the spread
of HIV via intravenous drug use. However governments must now
turn their attention to the rise in transmission via heterosexual
contact," Zeffman said.
She said it appeared that despite all the information available
about AIDS (news - web sites) many European heterosexuals don't
think they could be at risk.
"Whilst a return to the shock awareness campaigns of the
early 90s may not be welcomed, it is clear that there is a great
need for a new awareness campaign if the spread of infection via
this route is to be minimized in the coming years," she said.