A recently published analysis by the Praxis policy think tank puts the direct and indirect costs of HIV to the nation in the years 2000 to 2010 at 188 million euros.
Currently there are approximately 8,000 HIV-infected people in Estonia, with over 400 new cases appearing each year, according to the report. This means that expenses linked to HIV grow by 2.1 million euros per year, the study shows.
The report reveals that majority of people carrying the virus are working-age, which means that the state of their health has a significant impact on the national economy. For instance, HIV found five years after infection will have diminished a person's work capacity by 25 percent.
While early in the decade HIV was mostly diagnosed among people in their early twenties, more recently the number of cases among over 29-year-olds has been on the rise, the study shows.
The increase in HIV victims can be seen as a growing economic burden, as each year the state invests money into national prevention campaigns, antiretroviral treatment and other medical expenses, said Keit Fomotshkin, CEO of the Healthy Estonia Foundation. He also said there is still a huge unfulfilled need for help from employers in limiting the spread of HIV among the working population. "It is the task of employers to increase awareness among their workers regarding different paths of infection, to motivate their staff to get tested and contribute to reducing the infection rate among the working-age population," he said.