AIDS 2010: challenges in Europe

19 July 2010

The XVIII International AIDS Conference in Vienna, Austria, on 18–23 July 2010 (AIDS 2010) brings together over 25 000 participants to evaluate the progress made towards achieving universal access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support, and identify what remains to be done. The Conference will focus on eastern Europe, where the greatest scaling up of efforts in the WHO European Region is needed.

The number of newly diagnosed HIV cases in the WHO European Region continues to rise each year: over 100 000 were officially reported in 2008. As the epidemic spreads, a significant gap remains between the western and eastern parts of the Region in access to dedicated health services (such as HIV testing and counselling, follow-up prevention, treatment, care and support), especially by the people who are most vulnerable and at risk, notably injecting drug users.

The main mode of HIV transmission varies between countries and geographical regions. For example, the most common modes are injecting drug use in eastern Europe and central Asia and sex between men, followed by heterosexual contact, in central and western Europe. In the European Region, 2008 statistics reveal that most newly diagnosed HIV cases were still found among men, but 35% were found in women. The epidemic is particularly widespread in the Russian Federation and Ukraine. In eastern Europe and central Asia, only 23% of the estimated population in need has access to antiretroviral treatment: a level still among the lowest in the world.
WHO/Europe has developed a framework for HIV testing and counselling to support efforts to scale up services for at-risk and vulnerable populations.

WHO/Europe events at AIDS 2010

As part of its contribution to the Conference, WHO/Europe will hold a workshop on the barriers to scaling up access to services in eastern Europe and central Asia, and a press conference to raise awareness about treatment disparities in the European Region:

  • workshop: scaling up HIV testing and counselling in eastern Europe and central Asia with major emphasis on at-risk and vulnerable populations, 14:30–18:00, Tuesday, 20 July;
  • press conference: one epidemic – two Europes: 14:00, Press Conference Room 1, Wednesday, 21 July.

The Conference venue is Reed Messe Wien, Messeplatz 1, Vienna, Austria.