HIV’s Spread Around Europe Mapped

A recent study shows that HIV’s spread across Europe can be blamed largely on holidaymakers who were infected with the virus abroad.  Using the samples gathered from 17 countries around Europe, the researchers were able to track the movement of HIV around the continent.

According to the research, which was published in the Retrovirology journal, the biggest exporters of HIV are Greece, Portugal, Serbia, and Spain, largely because of tourists and migrants who leave the country with proper education.  Meanwhile, United Kingdom is both an exporter and an import.  This trend is the same when it comes to Israel, Norway, the Netherlands, Sweden, and Switzerland. 

The study also shows that largest importers of HIV in Europe include Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, and Luxembourg.  While in Poland, HIV remains within the country, but it is spread among its residents because of injecting drug users.

To track the migration of HIV, the researchers create a family for the virus, looking at detailed genetic characteristics that reveal how the virus has been evolving over time.  Looking at the final map of HIV migration, they theorize that popular tourist destinations such as Greece, Portugal, and Spain spread the virus with tourists.  Meanwhile, Serbia is said to have exported HIV through its inhabitants traveling to other countries and carrying the virus with them. 

As this latest information about how HIV is spread across Europe becomes available, researchers recommend that health programs within countries should not just target the national populations, but also aimed towards migrants, travelers, and tourists.

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