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European HIV ignorance hits new low

The level of ignorance about HIV transmission in Europe is getting worse, according to a recent Eurobarometer survey.

Only 55 per cent of all Europeans know for certain that HIV can't be transmitted by sitting on a toilet seat, according to a new study. Thirty per cent of Europeans think it is possible to be infected by a meal prepared by someone who is HIV positive. Handling objects touched by someone with HIV can transmit the virus, according to 22 per cent and 17 per cent think that shaking hands will have the same result.

The new accession states appear to be the least well informed, with Slovakia topping the list, but the 'old' 15 states, including the UK, show a worrying decrease in awareness as well.

Meanwhile, although most Europeans (94 per cent) know HIV can be transmitted via unprotected sex, 40 per cent of them take no precautions.

The result is a 39 per cent increase in infections in the past five years, according to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.

Portugal and Estonia have the highest rates of infection, more than three times the average for Europe.