Scientists who have mapped HIV’s spread across Europe say holidaymakers infected abroad are largely to blame.
By analysing samples from 17 European countries, the international team tracked the movement of the virus around the continent.
Their map shows Greece, Portugal, Serbia and Spain are big HIV exporters, with many tourists to and migrants from these countries leaving with the virus.
The UK is an exporter and importer, Retrovirology journal says.
The same is true of Israel, Norway, the Netherlands, Sweden and Switzerland, while countries like Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Germany and Luxembourg are largely importers of HIV, the researchers say.
They tracked its migration by creating a family tree for the virus, looking at detailed genetic characteristics that reveal how the virus has been evolving over time.
“Viruses move around with travellers – thus health programmes within countries should not only target the national populations, prevention efforts must also be aimed at migrants, travellers and tourists – who are both major sources and targets of HIV.”
…Rowan Harvey, of the Terrence Higgins Trust, said: “HIV isn’t constrained by borders, it’s a global epidemic and there are bound to be patterns of transmission between countries.