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Europe Is Seeing Vast Growth in HIV-Positive Migrants

Europe is Seeing a Vast Growth of HIV-Positive Migrants From Other Countries

Depsite the vast majority of migrants in Europe living with HIV being from Sub-Saharan Africa, the number of people from Central America and the Caribbean is growing fast. 

[EDITOR'S NOTE: The term migrant as used in this article is in the nomenclature of the European Union's official glossary as it relates to immigrants. That definition being: A broader-term of an immigrant and emigrant that refers to a person who leaves from one country or region to settle in another, often in search of a better life. This differs from the common use in the United States which often colloquially refers to seasonal farm workers.]

While migrants from Sub-Saharan Africa make up most of the migrants in Europe living with HIV, a new study from Sweden discovered a spike in the number of HIV-positive people who’ve migrated to Europe from Central America, the Caribbean, and central/eastern Europe. 

Every year for the last decade, 38 percent of new HIV cases in Europe happened to people not born in the country they were diagnosed in. But lately, the proportion of these populations have shifted. 

Over 250,000 people were newly diagnosed in Europe between 2004 and 2013, reports AIDS Map. Of that number, six percent were from Latin America and the Caribbean, while eight percent were from a European country other than the one they were diagnosed in.

As presented by Julia del Amor, from the National Center for Epidemiology in Spain, at the "HIV in Europe" meeting in Malta, even though sub-Saharan Africans still make up the majority, those numbers are declining, while Latin American and Caribbean numbers are increasing. 

The proportion of migrants living with HIV in Europe reportedly vary from one percent in Romania to 75 percent in Sweden. 

Diagnoses of sub-Saharan Africans living in the United Kingdom fell from 2250 in 2007 to 1600 in 2012, while diagnoses in people from Latin America and the Caribbean rose from 730 in 2007 to 1300 in 2010, then fell again to 900 in 2012. In central Europe, diagnoses rose from 300 in 2007 to 600 in 2012. 

According to Amor, the proportion of late diagnoses among migrants from western Europe also fell, while the proportion among migrants from central and eastern Europe rose. A large reason for this might be a lack of treatment eligibility. 

Treatment policy for immigrants living with HIV in Europe, particularly undocumented ones, has always been unbalanced. For example, while Sweden provides access to antiretroviral therapy to undocumented migrants, other countries do not; in Baltic countries: Lithuania and Estonia do, but Latvia does not; in central Europe: Hungary does, but others do not. 

Because of Sweden’s HIV assistance, it became the first country in the world to reach UNAIDS 90-90-90 goal, with 71.9 percent of HIV-positive people reaching undetectable levels.

On the other hand, Sweden also has one of the highest proportions of late diagnoses — mainly because a high number of people diagnosed in Sweden are migrants.

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