December 1st 2018 marked the 30th anniversary of World AIDS Day. The theme for this year is “Know Your Status” with a focus on the importance of HIV testing in tackling the worldwide HIV epidemic. In time for World AIDS Day, the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) published a new report describing the latest epidemiology of HIV in Ireland and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) released a report detailing HIV in Europe. The key points relating to the epidemiology of HIV in Ireland and the EU/EEA are described below.
In Ireland, there were 492 HIV diagnoses in Ireland in 2017, a notification rate of 10.3 per 100,000 population. While the rate of HIV notification in Ireland was stable between 2015 and 2017 (10.1-10.5 per 100,000 population), it was higher than the rate in the EU/EEA (6.2 per 100,000 population in 2017). Rates in the EU/EEA varied by country and were highest in Latvia (18.8) and Estonia (16.6), and lowest in Slovakia (1.3) and Slovenia (1.9) in 2017. While the overall rate in the EU/EEA has seen a slight decline in the last decade (from 6.9 in 2008), trends at national level are contrasting. Several countries, including Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Estonia, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain and the United Kingdom, have reported a decline in rates of new diagnoses. Conversely, since 2008, rates of HIV diagnoses have more than doubled in Bulgaria, Cyprus and Lithuania, and have increased by over 50% in the Czech Republic, Hungary, Malta and Poland.
When comparing data, it is important to note that a large proportion (39%) of HIV diagnoses in Ireland in 2017 were in people previously diagnosed HIV positive abroad. The majority of these people transferred their HIV care from abroad to Ireland. This compared to about 4% of people diagnosed with HIV in the EU/EEA in 2017 who were reported to have been previously diagnosed with HIV in another country. This proportion was higher in some countries, including Cyprus (29%), the Czech Republic (13%), Denmark (41%), Iceland (29%), France (7%), Malta (33%), Norway (24%) and Sweden (34%).
Source: Kate O’Donnell and Derval Igoe, HPSC, Epi Insight, December 2018