Health Warning: HIV epidemic as Eastern Europe sees its highest ever rate of infection and health bosses warn more must be done to combat its spread

MORE than 130,000 people were newly diagnosed with HIV last year in Eastern Europe, the highest rate ever for the region.

As the number of infected sky rocketed in one half of the continent the number of new cases in Western Europe declined according to a report from the World Health Organisation.

European Union and European Economic Area countries saw a reduction in 2017 rates, mainly driven by a 20 percent drop since 2015 among men who have sex with men.

That left Europe's overall increasing trend less steep than previously.

All told, almost 160,000 people were diagnosed in Europe with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), which causes AIDS, according to data from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) and the WHO regional office for Europe.

Zsuzsanna Jakab, director of the WHO regional office said: “It’s hard to talk about good news in the face of another year of unacceptably high numbers of people infected with HIV.