HIV infections on the ascent

Health Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos yesterday said AIDS «remained a threat to public health» as statistics showed that the number of Greeks infected with the HIV virus that can lead to AIDS is higher than it has been in nearly a decade. «AIDS is not a nightmare which has passed, it is not something we can push to the back of our minds,» Avramopoulos said, stressing the importance of avoiding complacency ahead of World AIDS Day on December 1. According to the Hellenic Center for Infectious Diseases Control (KEEL), there were 547 new cases of HIV in the first 10 months of this year. Experts at KEEL believe that this figure will exceed the number of new cases recorded in 2005 and 2006, 565 and 572 respectively, and might become the highest since 2000. There was no figure for new HIV cases in 2007, when the spread of the virus is believed to have stabilized. About four in 10 (43 percent) of new HIV infections are believed to have been contracted through gay sex.