Thirty-five percent of the 2,000 to 2,500 new HIV infections in Spain last year occurred among immigrants, Daniel Zulaika, president of the AIDS Interdisciplinary Society of Spain, said Wednesday at the XI National Congress on AIDS in Cordoba, Spain's El Pais reports.
A focus of the conference, which will continue through Friday, is the increasing number of HIV/AIDS cases among the country's immigrant population (El Pais, 10/9).
According to Zulaika, the percentage of new HIV/AIDS infections among immigrants -- who make up 10% of Spain's 45 million inhabitants -- is much higher than it was in 2002 when immigrants accounted for 5% of new HIV/AIDS infections. The group is vulnerable to the disease because they often have low incomes and come from different cultures, which create barriers to obtaining medical care, Zulaika said.
In terms of transmission modes, Zulaika said that there is no difference between how immigrants and Spaniards contract HIV, adding that the increase in new cases among immigrants paralleled the growth in the country's foreign-born population. According to Zulaika, 50% of new HIV/AIDS cases in 2007 were transmitted through heterosexual relations, while 25% were transmitted through male-to-male sexual relations and 12% were the result of injection drug use.
The conference is being attended by nearly 1,000 HIV/AIDS experts -- including physicians, nurses, members of nongovernmental organizations, public health officials -- as well as some HIV-positive individuals. Zulaika said that in order to fight the disease, there should be efforts to adapt treatment within the health care system, especially in the area of sexually transmitted infections, adding that campaigns should be created to target the spread of HIV/AIDS among immigrants (EFE News Service, 10/8).