Outbreak of HIV seen among people who inject drugs in Athens, Greece
Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) was seen in Greece as a “low-level epidemic” for several years. However, since the beginning of 2011, Greece has been facing a significant outbreak of HIV among people who inject drugs in Athens, according to a European Centre of Disease Control and Prevention (ECDC) released today.
The spike in cases was first reported in May 2011 when 70 cases were reported, a significant increase compared with between nine and 19 cases annually in the years 2001 to 2010.
According to the report, by the end of 2011, a total of 11,492 HIV-positive cases was on record. Of these, 3,254 were diagnosed with AIDS and 2,178 had died. Up to the end of 2011, a total of 5,600 people living with HIV were reported to receive antiretroviral therapy. The number of new HIV cases reported rose steadily until 2010. However, in 2011 a 57% increase was observed: 954 new cases, as opposed to 607 new cases in 2010.
Prior to 2010, HIV transmission was mainly occurring in Greece among men who have sex with men (MSM). The increase in 2011 was due to injectable drugs, according to European health officials.
Between 2010 and 2011, the number of new infections reported among people who inject drugs rose from 15 to 241, mainly in Athens.
During the first four months of 2012 (according to final data) was the first time the number of new HIV infections reported among people who inject drugs was higher than that among MSM.