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Romania’s response to HIV at a cross-road

Bucharest, 28 November 2012 - At global level, 2011 was a changing year for the AIDS response. UNAIDS reported a more than 50% drop in new HIV infections across 25 countries. In addition, the number of people with access to antiretroviral therapy increased by 63% in the last 24 months—AIDS-related deaths fell by more than 25% between 2005 and 2011 globally.

The area where perhaps most progress is being made is in reducing new HIV infections in children. Half of the global reductions in new HIV infections in the last two years have been among newborn children.

However, the number of new HIV infections continues to rise in Eastern Europe and Central Asia. Between 2001 and 2011, the estimated number of people living with HIV in Eastern Europe and Central Asia increased from 970 000 to 1.4 million. In that same period, HIV prevalence increased among young people aged 15-24: from 0.2% to 0.5% among young women and from 0.3% to 0.7% among young men. There was a 21% increase in AIDS-related deaths in the region between 2005 and 2011: from 76 000 to 92 000. In Eastern Europe and Central Asia, coverage of HIV treatment remains low: an estimated 25% of people eligible for HIV treatment are receiving it. Two countries in the region have achieved more than 60% treatment coverage: Georgia and Romania. The HIV epidemics in Eastern Europe and Central Asia are typically driven by unsafe drug injection and by onward transmission to the sexual partners of people who inject drugs.

Romania registered from 1986, the beggining of epidemic, until September 2012, 18.083 HIV and AIDS cases. In Romania, from the beginning of epidemic, 6.077 people died of AIDS – related illness and this year 543 new cases were registered. The tendencies for HIV infection in Romania indicate a constant increase in HIV transmission due to unhealthy heterosexual practices (278 new cases in 2012) and a rapid increase of HIV cases among the most at risk populations, 157 new HIV cases among injecting drug users and 65 new cases among men having sex with men population. Progresses were registered in preventing HIV transmission from mother to child, the number of new infections among children decreasing constantly comparing with past years (24 new cases in 2010 comparing with 12 new cases in 2012).
Romania registered significant progress in ensuring universal access to people living with HIV and the monitoring system is acknowledged in the region as a good practice. The challenges that Romania is facing and it has to address are related to the continuity of treatment at the same quality standards, accompanied by HIV preventive programmes among youth population and vulnerable groups, including access to voluntary HIV testing and counseling.

UNICEF will continue to support the national response in the next period of time by strengthening the health system to assist pregnant women and ensure that every child is born “free of HIV”. UNICEF will increase its engagement with the government, partners, NGOs and children to address the causes that put adolescent boys and girls at risk of HIV infection, to fight discrimination and to further strengthen services adapted to vulnerable adolescents in urban and rural areas.

For more information, please contact:
Codruța Hedeșiu, Communication Officer, UNICEF Romania, chedesiu@unicef.org, tel.: 021.201.78.64

 

 
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