NICOSIA - A total of 32 new HIV/AIDS cases were reported since January this year, a number which, according to experts, is high, compared to the population of Cyprus.
Figures also indicate that from 1986 a total of 825 people in Cyprus were diagnosed with HIV/AIDS of which 423 are Cypriots and 370 foreigners.
Experts note that as more figures are being collected, they estimate that the number of new cases will be much higher by the end of the year.
Speaking to CNA, President of the Cyprus Support Centre for AIDS/HIV carriers, Stella Michaelides said the rise in the number of new cases this year is alarming, noting that Cyprus is facing a possibly new outbreak of AIDS cases.
However, head of the Cyprus National AIDS Programme of the Health Ministry, Dr. Ioannis Demetriades told CNA we are not talking about a new outbreak.
Both experts said there are still people who have been infected and are not aware of it or have been diagnosed overseas and are not registered with the Health Ministry.
Michaelides said that an additional ten new cases were registered in the first six months of 2013, compared with last years, adding that this is enough to alarm the state.
She also said the Centre has had five cases of people calling to get information on how to get tested. “These five cases have not been registered”, Michaelides added.
In addition, she said there are people who are not aware that they carry the virus or have been diagnosed overseas.
“We cannot be complacent”, said Michalides and urged those who suspect they carry the virus to be tested. “It is wrong to give the impression that nothing is happening. There are factors that should concern us and numbers are alarming compared to the number of population”, she added.
Michaelides cited the recent case when a prostitute was found to be HIV positive and said that “when the case came to light, phones did not stop ringing at the Gregorios Clinic”.
The rise in the number of cases, she added, is also due to the rise in prostitution and a new trend, male prostitution, as well as the use of intravenous drugs.
However, according to Dr. Demetriades, Cyprus has a low percentage of HIV infections. Asked by CNA to give figures, Demetriades said that until this August, a total of 32 new cases were diagnosed, of which 31 reside in Cyprus and one left the country. From the 31 cases, 26 are Cypriots and five European citizens.
He also said that in 2012 there were 58 cases registered, of which 37 were Cypriot nationals, 13 European nationals and the remaining eight from other countries.
Demetriades said the Health Ministry is scheduling new information campaigns and that these campaigns will be operating throughout the year.