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Although in Western Europe the prevalence of HIV is relatively stable compared to high-prevalence area of the world, overall numbers of people living with HIV and new diagnoses continue to increase year on year at significant levels.

An estimated 2.5 million people were living with HIV in the World Health Organisation (WHO) European Region* in 2014. Around half of them are unaware of their diagnosis. In 2014, 142,197 people were diagnosed with HIV in the region, the highest number ever recorded in one year. The major portion of this growth in new diagnoses is concentrated in the eastern part of the region.

In the EU/EEA, the predominant mode of transmission for HIV infection is sex between men, which accounts for around 42% of all diagnoses. Sex between men and women accounts for around 33% of diagnoses, including cases of HIV originally acquired in sub-Saharan Africa. However, the route of transmission was unknown for almost 19% of all HIV diagnoses. The prevalence of HIV in the EU/EEA is 5.9 per 100,000 population.

The main mode of transmission for the whole WHO European region is sex between men and women. In Eastern Europe most new infections are amongst injecting drug users, and in Central Europe, heterosexual sex is believed to be the major mode of transmission. The highest rates of HIV are in Eastern Europe.

Among the 47 countries reporting AIDS cases in the WHO region, the overall number of reported AIDS diagnoses in 2014 was 16,034. However, Eastern Europe bucked this trend as 74% of all AIDS cases in 2014 were reported in the East.

Statistics for WHO European Region in 2014 

  • 50 countries reported new HIV infection; 70% of new infections were in the east of the region, 19% in the west and 3% in the centre
  • 10% of those newly diagnosed were between 15 and 24 year olds 
  • 24% of new diagnoses were reported among men who have sex with men 
  • 14% of new diagnoses were diagnosed in intravenous drug users 
  • 47% of new diagnoses were reported as due to sex between men and women 
  • HIV prevalence was 7.9 per 100,000 population

The UK continues to have (relatively to its size and population) one of the highest rates of new diagnoses in Western Europe. However the rate of increase in the UK has remained relatively stable compared to countries like Spain and Italy which have had significant increases since 2004. British HIV testing and surveillance is thought to be particularly well promoted and monitored which may also add to the higher number and rate here in the UK.

*The World Health Organization (WHO) divides the world into six WHO regions, for the purposes of reporting, analysis and administration.



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The Information Standard: Certified member

This article was last reviewed on 15/3/2016 by Anna Peters

Date due for the next review: 30/1/2017

Content Author: S. Paparini

Current Owner: Policy and Information

More information:

World Health Organisation: Surveillance Report HIV/AIDS, Surveillance In Europe 2012 (2013)

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