German Red Cross Official Warns of Impending European ‘Crisis’ Due to Rising HIV, TB Infection Rates
HIV and tuberculosis are spreading rapidly throughout Eastern Europe, and all of Europe is at risk for a "major health crisis" unless action is taken to fight the diseases, the leader of the German Red Cross told the European Regional Red Cross and Red Crescent Conference this week, Reuters Health reports. German Red Cross President Knut Ipsen said that although Africa and Asia have more AIDS cases than Eastern Europe, the former Eastern Bloc region has the fastest HIV/AIDS growth rates in the world, reporting 250,000 new infections in 2001. In addition, Russia's TB infection rate is twice as high as the European average, Ipsen said, adding that the diseases will likely spread throughout Europe as Eastern Europeans "floo[d]" Western Europe in search of jobs. Luebbo Roewer, a spokesperson for the German Red Cross, said that two million Europeans could die within the next few years unless "preventive action" is taken. "People in Western Europe are mostly ignoring the danger of this health crisis. They think a health crisis like this is far away in Asia and Africa, not in Europe," Roewer said. One goal of the conference is to draft a uniform action plan for European nations to fight HIV and TB (Stafford, Reuters Health, 4/17).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.