HIV Incidence in Germany Remains Stable, Researchers Say
Researchers at Germany's Robert Koch Institute recently announced that the rate of new HIV cases in Germany likely has stabilized for the first time since 2000, Bloomberg reports. From its latest findings, the institute expects 3,000 new HIV cases this year -- the same number of cases reported last year. Ulrich Marcus, an epidemiologist at the institute, said he expects the number of new cases to remain steady, including among men who have sex with men. Seventy-two percent of new cases this year were among MSM, according to figures cited on the institute's Web site.
According to Bloomberg, public health authorities in Australia, Germany and the United States have reported increasing numbers of new HIV cases, particularly among MSM, many of whom might see HIV/AIDS as a manageable disease. The stabilization of new cases in Germany, however, could go against that trend, according to the researchers. They added that the stabilization might not last. Institute President Joerg Hacker said in a statement, "The continuing high numbers show that prevention and research remain just as important."
Bloomberg reports that the steady rate of new HIV cases followed stabilizing rates of sexually transmitted infections, including syphilis, which has remained stable since 2004. Although researchers do not know the reason behind the stabilization of new HIV cases, Marcus said, "In my opinion, it's a consequence of the stabilization of other infections." The researchers said in a report in May that syphilis could make transmission of HIV easier and called for more efforts in diagnosing, preventing and treating syphilis and other STIs.
According to the institute, there are 63,500 people living with HIV/AIDS in Germany this year, 38,700 of whom are MSM. About 20% of cases this year were transmitted through heterosexual contact, while about 8% were because of injection drug use (Kresge, Bloomberg, 11/24).