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Sun, sea and sex driving HIV spread

A study has found the spread of HIV is being fuelled by holiday destinations that promote sun, sea and sex.

According to a new map that follows the march of AIDS, Greece and Spain are two of the most wide ranging exporters of the virus.

The research, published in the journal Retrovirology, also found that Portugal, Serbia and Holland play an important role in the widespread migration of HIV.

Countries without popular seaside resorts were found to have a narrower avenue of infection transmission, with Austria, Poland and Luxembourg making no significant contribution to its spread. However, the virus was imported to these countries from other nations.

The study found that Italy exported infections primarily to Austria while Portugal's main area of export was Luxembourg, where around 13% of the population is Portuguese.

To construct the map, researchers focused on the HIV-1 subtype B virus, the most prevalent form of HIV circulating in Europe, by taking samples from 16 European countries and Israel.

Dr Dimitrios Paraskevis, from the University of Athens and who led the study, said: "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."

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