A report shows that Germany now has the greatest number of registered new HIV infections since specific records began being kept in 1993. Last year, the registered number of new infections rose by four percent.
AIDS awareness is key, educators say
According to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), Germany's premier scientific research and public health agency, there were 2,611 new HIV infections registered in 2006. That is a four-percent rise over the previous year, and the highest increase since new infections specifically began being logged in 1993.
In its "Epidemiological Bulletin," RKI reported that the number of registered, newly diagnosed HIV infections had thereby risen 81 percent since 2001. However, the institute noted that one reason for that major increase is better methods of detecting and documenting infections.
With that adjustment, the RKI estimated that the number of actual new infections between 2001 and 2006 rose by around 40 percent.
While big cities still show a high number of registered new infections, the greatest number was seen in smaller towns of 100,000 people or less.
Detection and documentation have improved
That increase was found among homosexual and heterosexual people alike.
Also, northern and southern German states were affected most, while the number of registered new infections stagnated or dropped in central and eastern states.
Initial diagnoses highest among the middle-aged
Also the greatest number of initial diagnoses was found among 40- to 60-year-olds.
The group with the greatest number of reported new infections remains homosexual men -- at 52 percent; heterosexuals compose 14.6 percent of the people who registered infections for the first time in 2006.
Women made up 19 percent.
The institute reported that 11 children were born with HIV last year in Germany; in seven of the cases, the mothers had not been tested for the virus. Proper medical, pre-natal care can often prevent a mother-to-child transmission of HIV.
Some children with HIV are abandoned
Among the 2,611 people reported with new infections last year, 14.8 were uncertain how they were infected with the virus.
Education still -- or again -- a problem
According to the Thursday edition of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) paper, Germany's Federal Center for Health Education said that many Europeans believe that AIDS now primarily affects only developing countries.
Younger generations have missed out on the awareness programs of the 1990s, the paper wrote. The center said that less than 40 percent of the German population considers AIDS a dangerous disease.
"We may end up gambling away what we what we achieved in education during the '90s," Elisabeth Pott, Director of the Federal Center for Health Education, told the FAZ.
After a long lull, more money is now being invested in preventions campaigns, she said.