The reason for the rapid transmission of the HIV virus in one of Europe's most affected countries, Ukraine , is through heterosexual contacts making the risk more geeralised , UN and Ukrainian officials said.
"Heterosexual contact has become the chief transmission path as the number of new cases transmitted through drug consumption has dropped," the UNAIDS coordinator in Ukraine Anna Shakarishvili told reporters.
This trend "threatens to make the epidemics generalised," while at present it is concentrated in risk groups such as prostitutes, homosexuals and drug addicts, a health ministry official, Svitlana Tsherenko, warned.
Lacking a swift and efficient response, "the epidemics may reduce male life expectancy in Ukraine by up to four years and its GDP by six percent by 2014," the UNAIDS stressed in its statement, pointing out the lack of budget funds allocated to combat the disaster.
Of Ukraine's 46 million inhabitants, some 340,000 people aged over 15 years are considered HIV-positive, which amounts to 0.86 percent of all adult population, government statistics showed.
Officially, 151,000 cases of HIV contamination have registered since 1987.
The highest number of new cases was recorded last year at nearly 19,000, which is a 7.3 percent rise from 2007 figures. This year, over 10,000 new cases were registered in the first six months alone, compared to last year's 9,400 for the same period.
The only significant progress in fighting the disease was noted in the area of preventing HIV transmission from mother to child, which had fallen from 27 percent in 2000 to seven percent in 2008, UNAIDS said.