The number of HIV diagnoses in Italy is on the rise once again, marking the second consecutive increase after more than a decade of decline. According to a report by the Istituto Superiore di Sanità, there were 1,888 new cases of HIV in Italy last year, which is 2% higher than in 2021 and 34% higher than in 2020. However, the trend is influenced by the experience of the pandemic and the sharp decrease in diagnoses recorded in 2020, which was 44% lower than the previous year.
Despite the recent increase, the 2022 figure is still 25% lower than in 2019, and compared to 10 years ago, the number of cases has more than halved. The report also indicates that the average incidence of HIV in Italy was 3.2 new cases per 100 thousand inhabitants last year, which is lower than the rates observed in other countries of Western Europe and the European Union. The regions with the highest rates of new HIV diagnoses in 2022 were Lazio, Tuscany, Abruzzo, and Campania.
The report also highlights that almost 79% of new HIV diagnoses in Italy involve males, with sexual intercourse being the main mode of contagion (43% heterosexual, 41% MSM). Infections attributable to people who use drugs accounted for 4.3% of cases. Additionally, the number of people living with HIV in Italy has increased from 127 thousand to 142 thousand between 2012 and 2021, marking a 12% rise.
The situation is not unique to Italy, as the report also provides an overview of HIV/AIDS surveillance in Europe. In 2022, 22,995 new HIV diagnoses were registered in the countries of the European Union and the European Economic Area, representing a 30.8% increase compared to 2021. However, the data also indicates a decrease in infections by 3.8% compared to the pre-pandemic period.
The director of the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), Andrea Ammon, stated that the increase in diagnoses in 2022 is evidence that many people living with HIV are better able to access testing, treatment, and support services, moving in the right direction. However, the report also highlights that many diagnoses are late, indicating problems in access and uptake of HIV testing for some segments of the population.
Despite the increase in HIV diagnoses, the report also presents promising trends in the reduction of AIDS-related deaths. In 2022, there were 2,349 AIDS diagnoses in Europe, with a rate of 0.6 diagnoses per 100 thousand inhabitants, corresponding to half of that recorded 10 years ago. Additionally, the reduction in AIDS-related deaths was significant, with 767 recorded in 2022, almost half compared to the 1,373 in 2013. The report provides important insights into the current state of HIV/AIDS in Italy and Europe, highlighting the need for continued efforts to prevent and manage these infections.