Nearly one in six new HIV diagnoses in Europe are among people over 50

Based on data reported to ECDC between 2004 and 2015, 312 501 new HIV diagnoses were reported in younger adults (15 to 49 years of age) in the EU/EEA, resulting in an average reported incidence of new diagnoses of 11.4 per 100 000 population. During this 12-year period, 54 102 cases were reported among older adults aged over 50 years translating into 2.6 per 100 000 population. The rate of newly reported cases increased by 2% each year among older adults since 2004, when 3 132 diagnoses were notified in this age group. By 2015, around every one in six (17%) of newly diagnosed HIV in Europe were among people aged over 50, accounting for 5076 reported cases.

To read more about HIV diagnoses among people over 50 go to the ECDC website: https://ecdc.europa.eu/en/news-events/ecdc-study-nearly-one-six-new-hiv-diagnoses-europe-are-among-people-over-50

WHO urges action against HIV drug resistance threat

The World Health Organization (WHO) HIV drug resistance report 2017 shows that of the 36.7 million people living with HIV worldwide, 19.5 million people were accessing anti-retroviral therapy in 2016. The majority of these people are doing well, with treatment proving highly effective in suppressing the HIV virus. But a growing number are experiencing the consequences of drug resistance. In 6 of the 11 countries surveyed in Africa, Asia and Latin America, over 10% of people starting antiretroviral therapy had a strain of HIV that was resistant to some of the most widely used HIV medicines.

The Organization warns that this growing threat could undermine global progress in treating and preventing HIV infection if early and effective action is not taken.

Safe blood transfusions in Italy

There have been no HIV or Hepatitis infections from blood transfusions in the last 10 years in Italy.

More than three million transfusions of blood components were made in 2015, with 1709 positive cases of HIV or Hepatitis detected in 1691 donors, who were therefore disqualified from giving blood. This screening system ensures the safety of receiving blood and its components.

To read more (in Italian) about safe blood transfusions on the salute.gov.it website

UN European coalition on health

The UN European coalition on health is a coordination mechanism focusing on the achievement of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 3 – to ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages – in the pan-European Region, and of the health-related targets present in other SDGs.

At its initial meeting in 2016 the coalition identified four key workstreams to focus on:

  1. health throughout the life-course, with a focus on maternal and child health (contributing to SDG 3, 4, 5, 16);
  2. communicable diseases, with a focus on HIV and tuberculosis (contributing to SDG 3, 1, 6);
  3. universal health coverage, with a focus on medicines (contributing to SDG 3, 1, 5);
  4. migration, including aspects of emergencies (contributing to SDG 3, 1, 10, 11, 13).

For more information about the UN European coalition on health on the euro.who.int website

HIV & Hepatitis in Europe

There are 53 countries in the WHO European Region and within those countries there are 15 million people living with hepatitis C and 13.3 million people living with hepatitis B, the vast majority of whom are unaware of their infection and therefore at risk of developing cirrhosis or liver cancer. On average, fewer than 3% of patients with chronic hepatitis C receive treatment. In addition, there are 2.5 million people living with HIV, almost half of whom are unaware of their infection.

Safe and effective treatments exist that allow people living with HIV and/or viral hepatitis B to lead healthy and long lives. Those living with hepatitis C can be cured. Knowing your health status, however, is the prerequisite to accessing treatment and the WHO strongly supports the European HIV-Hepatitis initiative which aims to break the silence around HIV and viral hepatitis and build momentum to stop these epidemics by 2030.

Read more about HIV and Hepatitis in Europe on the euro.who.int website

Over 2 million HIV cases in Europe

The cumulative number of HIV cases in the WHO European Region has risen to a new high of more than 2 million, with 153,000 new HIV cases identified in 2015 – a 7% increase compared to the previous year and the highest annual number since reporting began in the 1980s.

A new report “HIV/AIDS surveillance in Europe 2015“, also states that 1 in 7 people living with HIV in the European Economic Area (122,000 people) are unaware of their condition.

The main transmission mode also varied by geographical area. HIV infections increased consistently among men who have sex with men in the western and central parts of the Region, while in the eastern part heterosexual transmission increased. Transmission through injecting drug use still accounted for one third of new cases in eastern European countries.

For more information about HIV/AIDS in Europe from the euro.who.int website

Sexual health in the over 50s

People in their 50s, 60s, 70s and 80s are having sex with new partners but many don’t think safer sex applies to them, perhaps because they are past child-bearing age and/or because they have recently come out of a long-term relationship and haven’t had to think about safe sex issues for many years.

As a result, sexually transmitted infections are increasing in this age group. However many older adults missed out on safe sex education and the result is they are diagnosed with an STI when it is too late to benefit from the medications available for treatment of diseases in their early stages.

This project (SHIFT) is looking for funding from the Interreg 2Seas programme to raise awareness and knowledge of both clinicians and the general public so that attitudes are changed, the older generation is engaged and empowered through the provision of better information, and delivery strategies are improved.

This will lead to reduced rates of STIs, and therefore lower health care costs and a better trained healthcare workforce able to offer fit-for-purpose services.

We are actively looking for partners but already have interest from Medway Council, Canterbury Christ Church University, KCC, KentCHT, Brighton and Hove and the Metro charity in the UK as well as Eurasante in France and Vives in Belgium.

Action plans on HIV/AIDS and viral hepatitis

Over 142 000 new HIV infections were diagnosed in the WHO European Region in 2015, the highest number ever. The HIV epidemic is driven by cases in the eastern part of the Region, where the number of new diagnoses has more than doubled during the past decade.

Over 13 million people in the Region are living with chronic hepatitis B infection and over 15 million with chronic hepatitis C infection. Two-thirds of those infected are in eastern Europe and central Asia. Hepatitis B and C infections lead to 400 deaths in the Region every day.

Two advisory committees met in April 2016 to guide new action plans on HIV/AIDS and viral hepatitis for the WHO European Region 2016–2021. The aim of the new HIV/AIDS plan is to boost efforts initiated with the 2012–2015 plan to achieve zero new HIV infections, zero discrimination and zero AIDS-related deaths in the Region.

For more information about the Action Plans on the euro.who.int website

 

HIV prevention programmes

Quality Action, a Joint Action of European Union member states, aimed to promote the health of the community by maximising the quality of HIV prevention projects and programmes.

Its final conference earlier this year brought together more than 120 representatives from governmental and non-governmental organisations to share their experiences in applying five quality improvement tools. Over a three year period, Quality Action has trained more than 400 prevention experts in use of these tools and there has been more than 80 practical applications of the tools across Europe.

The Quality Action Charter for Quality in HIV Prevention also provides key principles for reinforcing the effectiveness of HIV prevention through quality improvement.

To find out more about Quality Action on their qualityaction.eu website

Improving quality in HIV prevention

Quality Action is the EU co-funded ‘Joint Action on Improving Quality in HIV Prevention’ involving 45 partner organisations from 26 Member States.

It promotes practical tools and materials to maximise the quality of HIV prevention projects and programmes. Five practical quality improvement tools are ready, and more than 80 practical applications of the tools have been carried out and documented in case studies.

Quality Action has also developed a policy kit which offers concrete actions for integrating quality improvement into HIV prevention policies, strategies and action plans. The ‘Charter for Quality in HIV Prevention’ summarises quality principles, criteria and key activities to put quality improvement into practice and offer practitioners, experts, policy makers and all other stakeholders the opportunity to commit to improving their work in HIV prevention.

More information about Quality Action on the qualityaction.eu website