2006 sees highest rise in new HIV cases since 1985

The number of people infected with the HIV virus in the Czech Republic increased significantly last year. According to the National Reference Laboratory for AIDS, 2006 saw the highest number of new cases since 1985. Of the 93 newly registered patients last year, ten had full blown AIDS. The latest figures suggest that a total of 920 people in the Czech Republic have HIV or AIDS, of whom just about one half - 464 - live in Prague.

Dr. Marie Bruckova
Radio Prague discussed the problem with Dr. Marie Bruckova, the head of the National Reference Laboratory for AIDS:

"It is quite understandable that these HIV positive people are concentrated in the capital because they have many opportunities here to get infected. We have here quite a big gay population and also foreigners are coming here to visit gay clubs and so on, so it is quite understandable that the situation is as it is. I cannot compare it to other countries."

Looking at what has been causing the virus to spread, the most common causes - because you mentioned the gay community, the homosexual community - are there not any other reasons here?

"In general, the main mode of transmission, the main transmission category, as we say, is sexual contact and it counts for more than 85 percent of all HIV positives. If we just compare heterosexual and homosexual contacts, homosexual contacts are responsible for almost 55 percent of all registered cases. Also, another factor which can play a role is more social contacts. If you live in the country, you don't have so many social contacts as you do here in Prague, of course. Another thing is the anonymity of a big city."

The number of new cases that were registered last year has been a record number since 1985.

"That's right. It was a twenty-five-percent rise. This year we are also slowly going up. We have this increase in newly diagnosed cases, at 3.3 percent."

What is causing this rise?

"I think one of the reasons may be that people don't care too much about this disease. It is here, we know about it but we don't care too much, we don't protect ourselves. Because we know that this disease can be treated - especially young people. They don't see anymore what the previous generations could see - people dying of AIDS. Now these people dying of AIDS are somewhere in the corner, nobody cares about them. They are not seen."