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At the end of 2018, an estimated 1.7 million people were living with HIV in Eastern Europe and Central Asia.1 It is one of two regions in the world where the HIV epidemic continues to grow rapidly, with a 27% increase in annual HIV infections between 20.2 In 2018, there were roughly 150,000 new HIV infections.
In the same year, there were 38,000 AIDS-related deaths.3 By the end of 2018, 72% of people living with HIV were aware of their HIV status.4 The vast majority of people living with HIV in Eastern Europe and Central Asia live in Russia (70%), where new infections are on the rise, followed by Ukraine.
29 In many countries, HIV data relating to men who have sex with men is grossly under-reported, inconclusive or not reported at all.
The region is home to roughly one in four people who inject drugs worldwide.14 Russia has the highest number of injecting drug users in the region (1.8 million), about 2.3% of the adult population.
In addition, a number of countries have certain laws such as the criminalisation of HIV exposure and HIV non-disclosure, and the criminalisation of same sex activities and sex work that discourage people from key populations from testing.53 Despite the need, innovative testing approaches such as mobile HIV testing, self-testing kits and partner notification, whereby someone newly diagnosed with HIV is supported to disclose to sexual and injecting partners in order to encourage them to test for HIV, are yet to feature in many national HIV programmes.54 That said, some countries are making progress.