What happened to the rate of newly diagnosed HIV infections in the last 10 years in Europe?

  • A. Decreased by about 40%
  • B. Stayed about the same
  • C. Increased by about 40%

Correct answer

The rate of newly diagnosed HIV infections in Europe increased by 37% in the last ten years, going from 14.6 per 100,000 people in 2008 (about 110,000 cases in total) to 20 per 100,000 people in 2017 (about 160,000 cases).

Eastern Europe, and particularly Russia, have a great influence on the increase in new HIV infections in the region. In 2017, 82% of all new cases were reported from Eastern Europe, 14% were reported from Western Europe, and only 4% from Central Europe.

Data source

The evidence for the correct answer comes from the World Health Organization and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control: https://gapm.io/xecdch

Europeans think HIV cases stayed the same

As with most of the questions in this study, our respondents didn’t seem to know anything about what’s going on in Europe from a health standpoint. Only 16% of the people we asked in the United Kingdom got this question right, compared to 17% in France, and 20% in Germany. A massive 82% of respondents didn’t even realise the situation has gotten worse regarding HIV in Europe.

Why do people pick the wrong answer?

Because they think that what they see in their country is true for all of Europe… People in rich countries tend to think their country is the best, and that their region is the most advanced. It’s difficult to think the situation has been going downhill when it comes to a disease that Europeans thought was getting better.

This level of ignorance is also most likely due to the fact that infection rates in the countries we surveyed are not increasing, and that most people don’t really think about Russia or the wider Eastern Europe when asked about Europe. In the past 10 years, none of the three polled countries has seen an increase in HIV rates, so it is quite plausible that people just extrapolate what they might have heard (or not heard) about their own country to Europe as a whole.