The latest data published by the National Institute of Public Health delivered some startling news to Poland. The country has seen more HIV infections than ever before in 2022, and the nation’s health ministry is raising the alarm.
There are a number of factors driving the increase, with the Polish Ministry of Health listing “changing social behavior in the sexual sphere,” but also the influx of war refugees from Ukraine. Ukraine has the highest number of HIV and AIDS cases in all of Europe.
Since the beginning of the year until the end of September, there were 1,678 people diagnosed with new HIV virus infections in Poland. If this growth maintains its pace during the remaining months of 2022, the milestone of 2,000 new cases should be surpassed. Until now, only in two years has the barrier of 1,500 cases been crossed — in 2019 (1,615 cases) and in 2017 (1,526 cases).
What happened for the numbers recorded this year to be so dramatic?
The Polish Ministry of Health admits that this year has seen “substantial growth,” possibly caused by the previous COVID-19 pandemic, which had rendered the diagnosis system inefficient. The ministry also warns that the number of infections could increase in the near future — this is said to be due to the influx of refugees from Ukraine.
“The problem of HIV/AIDS seems to be marginalized due to the stabilization of the situation. However, social behavior in the sexual sphere and the emergence of new real risks, including in the population of youth and young adults, as well as the war beyond the eastern border of our country, one of the consequences of which is the influx of a large number of war refugees from Ukraine, may cause an increase in the number of infections,” the Polish health ministry report explained.
At the same time, the ministry highlighted that close to 40 years after the first HIV diagnosis in Poland, it remains to be a country of “low HIV prevalence, similar to Western European countries, not high, as in countries on the other side of our eastern border.
“This proves the effectiveness of the state policy against the issue of HIV/AIDS,” the report added.