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HIV rate growing in Slovakia

MOST people in Slovakia who have been diagnosed HIV positive are from the Bratislava Region.

MOST people in Slovakia who have been diagnosed HIV positive are from the Bratislava Region.

“Roughly one-half of the HIV-positive Slovaks we have registered are from Bratislava and its surroundings,” the head of the National Reference Centre for HIV-AIDS Prevention, Danica Staneková, told the Pravda daily.

The centre has registered 72 cases of HIV in Bratislava. Slovakia has one of the lowest HIV rates in the world.

The country marked World AIDS Day on December 1.

Across Europe, people with HIV tend to be concentrated in the biggest cities.

“The reason is that life there has more anonymity, and there is increased sex-tourism, prostitution, and also a high proportion of students,” Staneková said. “These young people often search for new partners and change them.”

Even though the number of new HIV cases is not rising as dramatically in Slovakia as in other countries, the number is constantly growing. In 2004 there were 24 new cases of HIV detected. The next year there were 29 new cases, and in 2006 the number climbed to 35.

So far this year, doctors have diagnosed HIV in 35 patients, and that number is likely to grow by the end of the year.

“During the last few years, people’s mobility has increased significantly,” Staneková said. “Young people travel more often, or travel to countries with a high occurrence of HIV to find work there. They are searching for partners there and they can contract the virus much more easily than at home.”

Because there is no effective vaccination, prevention is still the best cure when it comes to HIV.

The National Reference Centre for HIV-AIDS Prevention performs about 1,500 HIV tests annually.

“Most often young people with high-risk experiences, who want to face their past, are undergoing the tests,” said Staneková.

Most positive patients are between 25 and 35 years old.

From 1985 to September 30, 2007, there have been a total of 208 HIV positive people registered in Slovakia. The disease has already developed into AIDS for 43 of them.

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