Foreigners living in the country are more likely to have contracted HIV. According to a study conducted by the AIDS division of the Italian Health Ministry, the HIV rate among non-natives is six times higher than that of Italians.
Approximately 69 out of 100,000 immigrants were infected with the HIV virus, compared to 8.7 cases among every 100,000 Italians. The study, which gathered statistics between 1992 and 2004, found that non-natives account for 19 percent of all new diagnoses of the virus in Italy. Almost 50 percent of these cases involve people from Africa and another 25 percent from Latin America. The average age of those identified with the virus for the first time was 31 years.
Experts believe that the higher incidence of the virus among foreign-born populations is due to poor education about AIDS and its spread, as well as a lack of prevention strategies in developing or undeveloped countries. Coordinator of the study, Barbara Suligoi, said, ‘A variety of factors mean that immigrant populations are more vulnerable to the virus—first and foremost, the fact they come from countries where HIV is rife’.
Recent reports suggest that there are approximately 4,000 new cases of HIV diagnosed each year in Italy, two thirds of which are contracted through sexual relations. However, these figures also reveal that HIV and AIDS-related deaths are generally on the decline throughout the country.