Greek HIV cases leap in 2006

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(c) magellanATHENS (AFP) - Greece's HIV rate leapt by more than 25 percent for the second year running in 2006 with 485 new cases, the centre of illness control and prevention (KEELPNO) announced.

The figures up to October 31 demonstrate a "noticeable rise in infections contracted through male homosexual relations," KEELPNO said in a statement. The statistics showed 391 men and 94 women diagnosed with the immune disease.

The authorities announced a "national action plan," after the rise of 2005, which mainly concentrates on awareness.

Greek and international experts have for years decried the lack of information getting through to the general public, particularly through schools where no sex education is taught.

Greece now has 8080 cases of HIV, almost 80 percent of which are men, the centre added.

Two patients were contaminated through blood transfusions in hospital, the centre said. After the contaminations were discovered in March, the health ministry ordered the modernisation of control mechanisms.

The health ministry explained the increase in cases was due to a drop in prevention efforts. The ministry however praised the increasing numbers of people being tested which has been a long-standing cultural problem.

source - AFP