Almost 160,000 people were newly diagnosed with HIV in Europe last year, with three-quarters of the new cases arising in Ukraine and Russia, two European health agencies said on November 28.
While the number of new cases was lower than in recent years in the 53 countries comprising the European region, in many instances the diagnosis came too late and the victim had already reached an advanced stage of infection, according to the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control and the World Health Organization's European office.
Their report estimated that one in five people with HIV in Europe were unaware of their status, with late detection increasing the risk of "ill health, death, and onward HIV transmission."
In Ukraine, Russia, and other countries in Eastern Europe, the high proportion of new cases was mainly attributed to transmission through heterosexual sex and intravenous drug use, the report said.
The overall trend suggested the European region would not achieve the UN target of eliminating HIV/AIDS by 2030.
The 53 countries in WHO's European region have a combined population of nearly 900 million. Around 508 million of those live in the 28 member states of the European Union plus Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Norway.
In total, more than 2 million people are affected by HIV in Europe, the report said. Some 37 million people worldwide are infected with HIV.
Vytenis Andriukaitis, European commissioner for health and food safety, said that, to make further progress, health officials will have to "overcome the stigma of HIV infection and treatment and continue our efforts in dispelling false beliefs about how HIV and AIDS are spread."
Since the start of the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s, more than 77 million people worldwide have become infected with HIV and almost half of them died of AIDS.