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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% an.


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 year.

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.






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