HIV infection unknown to many

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HIV infections in Germany: more and more infected

It was in the early 1980s that a real AIDS epidemic broke out in Germany. An estimated 94,000 people have been infected with the virus since then. About 27,000 died. At the time, HIV infection was considered a safe death sentence, as a result of which those affected died from life-threatening infections and tumors.

Thanks to antiretroviral drugs and the likelihood of survival of people with HIV has increased significantly and meanwhile an almost "normal" life with the virus is possible. According to current estimates by the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) in Berlin, around 78,000 people living with HIV lived in 2012. The number of people living with the HI virus in the age group of over 40-year-olds has quintupled since the beginning of the 1990s. The researchers observed an unchanged high level of new infections. Almost half of the sick (45 percent) got infected abroad.

The RKI is concerned about groups of people who are not yet aware of their HIV infection. According to the RKI report, around 14,000 people are “HIV positive and do not know anything about it because an HIV test has not yet been carried out”. 30 percent of those affected are between 25 and 34 years old. Around 3,400 Germans (just under 25 percent) became infected in the course of 2012. The majority, 74 percent, are men who have had sex with other men. Among heterosexual women, 11 percent were affected and eight percent were heterosexual men. The proportion of drug addicts who got infected as a result of infected syringes was six percent. Almost a third of the cases were diagnosed in the first year.

In a majority of 75 percent, an infection was diagnosed only after the appearance of clinical symptoms. In order to curb the high number of new infections, the RKI advises to sensitize the risk groups for the use of condoms and to offer more low-threshold help offers. Access to the HIV test is to be made easier. According to the experts, it is also important to stop the sharp rise in syphilis cases. The venereal disease promotes susceptibility to HIV as well as the transmission of the virus. (fr)

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