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Report: HIV diagnoses hit record high in Eastern Europe

A nurse takes care of a terminally ill patient at an HIV/AIDS clinic in Kiev, Ukraine. A new report found that Eastern Europe reached its highest number of HIV diagnoses on record in 2017. (SERGEI SUPINSKY/AFP/Getty Images)

A new report found that Eastern Europe reached its highest number of HIV diagnoses on record in 2017, and the region now has the fastest-growing infection rate in the world.

What are the details?

The World Health Organization's Regional Office for Europe and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control released a joint study Wednesday that showed a stark contrast between the infection rates of Eastern and Western Europe.

Out of the 160,000 Europeans diagnosed with HIV last year, a staggering 130,000 of them live in the Eastern part of the continent — the most ever reported there.

Of all the new cases, 70 percent were men.

The rate of infections in the East last year were at 51.1 new cases diagnosed per 100,000 people, while rates in the West were tracked to be at a rate of 6.4 new cases per 100,000.

Broken down by country, Russia had the highest rate at 71 new cases per 100,000, followed by Ukraine and Belarus, CNN reported.

"It's hard to talk about good news in the face of another year of unacceptably high numbers of people infected with HIV," WHO Regional Director for Europe Dr. Zsuzsanna Jakab said in a statement.

"My call to governments, ministers of health and decision-makers is bold: scale up your responses now," Jakab urged.

Anything else?

Dr. Anton Pozniak, president of the International AIDS Society, told CNN about the report: "No one should think, 'I won't ever have HIV.' That's very important, and we have to make sure that people are coming for tests at all levels."

"People who inject drugs account for the largest proportion of new diagnoses of any key population at 48.8 percent but heterosexual sex may soon overtake injecting drug use as the main means of HIV transmission," he warned about the region's infection rate. "This is a potential shift from mainly affecting key populations to affecting the general population."

Reuters reported that roughly 37 million people worldwide are currently infected with HIV. Over 77 million people have contracted virus since the AIDS epidemic began in the 1980s, and almost half of them have died from the disease.

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