For one decade (1987 – 1999) Estonia was a state with a low incidence of HIV infection: 6.5 cases per million inhabitants. At the same time, the rate of the infection in the neighboring states was markedly higher (14 – 67 cases per million inhabitants).
The situation in Estonia changed significantly in the year 2000 and at present one can speak about HIV epidemics here. In 2000, 390 new cases were detected and in 2001 Estonia ranked among first in Europe regarding the fast increase in the infection with 1474 newly diagnosed cases (i.e. over 1000 cases per million inhabitants). In the subsequent years the number of those infected stabilized showing a slight trend of decrease.
At the time of the breaking out of the epidemics mostly young people were infected: up to 24-year-olds accounted for about 71% of all newly diagnosed cases. Contraction of the disease was the highest in the age group of up to 19-year-old persons, 46%.
In the course of the epidemics the number of new cases has been the highest among women, the ratio of the number of infected women to that of infected men being 2:1. The increase in the number of infected women has raised the problem of HIV positive pregnant women.
Majority of the infected persons use intravenous drugs. However, Estonia is endangered by the sexual transmission of the infection among general population. A new issue is HIV infection among detainees, who account for 26% of all positive test results.
The pathogen in Estonian HIV positive persons is the HIV virus subtype B which is closely associated with the recombinant CRF06-cpx type distributed only in African countries.
All patients in Estonia in whom treatment against HIV infection is indicated are granted specific antiretroviral therapy.