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Other official information and services:  belgium

1. Key messages

  • The total number of people newly diagnosed with HIV in 2022 has risen slightly compared to 2021. However, the downward trend in the total number of people diagnosed with HIV continues. 
  • In 2022, 68% of new HIV diagnoses were among men. Most people diagnosed with HIV were in the 20-49 age group.
  • A decrease in new diagnoses in 2022 was observed among men who have sex with men (MSM), this downward trend being in continuity with previous years.  However, there has been an increase in the number of diagnoses among MSM aged 20 to 29 for 2 consecutive years.
  • There has been an increase in HIV diagnoses among heterosexual women from sub-Saharan Africa.
  • The rate of new HIV diagnoses is higher in Brussels compared to the other regions, reflecting the fact that HIV infection is mainly an urban phenomenon.

2. New diagnoses of HIV infections in 2022

In 2022, 597 new diagnoses of HIV infections were made in Belgium (5.1 new diagnoses per 100.000 inhabitants, or on average 1.6 cases a day). Among those, 68% were men. 77% of the HIV infections were diagnosed in people aged 20-49.

Number of new reported HIV diagnoses by age and sex, Belgium, 2022
Source: Epidémiologie du SIDA et de l’infection à VIH en Belgique, Sciensano, 2023 [1]

New HIV diagnoses have increased in 2022 - but are still lower compared to previous years

The number of new HIV diagnoses has increased by 14% in 2022 compared to 2021. But in comparison to previous years, the total number of new HIV diagnoses is still substantially lower (-12% compared to 2019).

Between the start of the epidemic in the early 80s and the end of 2022, a total of 31,139 persons were diagnosed with HIV, and a total of 5,458 cases of AIDS were reported.

Number of new diagnoses of HIV and AIDS, Belgium, 1982-2022
Source: Epidémiologie du SIDA et de l’infection à VIH en Belgique, Sciensano, 2023 [1]

Brussels has a higher diagnosis rate compared to the rest of Belgium

In 2022, of the 597 newly diagnosed persons, 194 were resident in the Brussels-Capital Region, 249 in the Flemish Region, 147 in the Walloon Region, and 7 were residing abroad.

When accounting for the number of inhabitants, the incidence rates in the Flemish Region and in the Walloon Region are comparable, while the rate in the Brussels Capital Region is much higher. This difference is not surprising since a higher HIV prevalence is a common phenomenon in a big city. The Brussels Capital Region can indeed be considered a big city - with the socio-cultural characteristics of an urban context – while the two other regions mix rural, semi-urban, and urban contexts.

Rate of new HIV diagnoses per 100,000 by region, Belgium, 2022
Source: Epidémiologie du SIDA et de l’infection à VIH en Belgique, Sciensano, 2023 [1]

The number of new diagnoses is lower than in the years before 2020, although there is a slight increase in all three regions in 2021 and 2022

The decline over the last decade observed at national level is mirrored in all three regions, with particularly low numbers of people diagnosed in 2020, followed by a slight increase in 2021 and 2022. This recent increase is particularly marked in the Brussels-Capital region.

Number of new HIV diagnoses by region, Belgium, 2009-2022
Source: Epidémiologie du SIDA et de l’infection à VIH en Belgique, Sciensano, 2023 [1]

Diversification in the 2-key populations in Belgium

Since the start of the HIV epidemic in Belgium, two key populations have been particularly affected: men who have sex with men (MSM) of Belgian nationality, and heterosexual men and women from sub-Saharan Africa.

Number of new HIV diagnoses by probable mode of infection, Belgium, 1999-2022
Source: Epidémiologie du SIDA et de l’infection à VIH en Belgique, Sciensano, 2023 [1]

However, among both MSM and heterosexuals, the distribution of nationalities changes significantly over time. Among people infected through heterosexual contact, the share of people of sub-Saharan nationality is declining (54% in 2013 to 44% in 2022). However, in 2022, the number of diagnoses among heterosexuals has risen by 26% compared with 2021. This increase is mainly due to the large number of diagnoses among heterosexual women of sub-Saharan origin. 

In 2022, 248 new HIV diagnoses were made among MSM; this represents a 5% decrease compared to 2021, continuing the downward trend of previous years. While we observed a decrease of 17% among MSM of Belgian nationality, the number of diagnosis of Latin American has increased. In 2022, half of all HIV diagnoses among MSM were among men of Belgian nationality, 19% had a Latin American nationality and 17% another European nationality. In the 20-29 age group, there has been an increase in diagnoses over the past 2 years (+34% compared with 2021).

  • MSM
  • Heterosexuals

Number of new HIV diagnoses in MSM by nationality, Belgium, 1995-2022
Source: Epidémiologie du SIDA et de l’infection à VIH en Belgique, Sciensano, 2023 [1]

Number of new HIV diagnoses in heterosexuals by nationality, Belgium, 1995-2022
Source: Epidémiologie du SIDA et de l’infection à VIH en Belgique, Sciensano, 2023 [1]

More than a thousand people in Belgium live with an undiagnosed HIV infection

In 2022, Sciensano has estimated the number of people living with undiagnosed HIV [1] based on a tool developed by ECDC [2]. 627 people living with HIV in Belgium were not aware of their seropositivity. These estimates should be interpreted with caution, however, given the significant uncertainty surrounding the estimates for the last 2 years derived from this model. Based on the ECDC tool, the number of people living with undiagnosed HIV in Belgium appears to have been steadily declining since 2011.

3. Read more

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HIV Surveillance - Sciensano


Transmission of HIV

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) such as human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) are spread primarily through person-to-person sexual contact. Additionally, HIV can be transmitted through blood products and tissue transfer, and from mother to child during pregnancy or breastfeeding.

HIV can be present without symptoms, which can facilitate transmission. It is one of the most serious communicable diseases in Europe. Infection with the virus can, if antiretroviral treatment (ART) is not initiated, lead to serious morbidity (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS)) and requires life-long treatment.

HIV is an avoidable infection since the transmission is largely preventable by behavioural measures (safe sex, safe injection). Therefore HIV incidence in a defined population is an indicator of the success/failure of control strategies. Since 2017, the use of pre-exposure prophylaxis to HIV (PrEP) is reimbursed in Belgium.

Surveillance of HIV in Belgium

The epidemiological surveillance of HIV in Belgium dates from 1985 and is carried out by Sciensano on the basis of the registration of new HIV diagnoses. These data are reported by the seven AIDS reference laboratories that perform all confirmations of positive HIV screening tests. In addition to recording the number of newly diagnosed HIV positive, the laboratories also collect basic epidemiological data on gender, age, nationality, probable route of infection, and clinical stage at the time of diagnosis. Sciensano also collects data on the people living with HIV (PLWH) in Belgium (HIV cohort data) from the AIDS reference laboratories and the HIV reference centres.

Besides the newly diagnosed cases, Sciensano also estimates the number of people living with HIV: those who have not yet been diagnosed [1] and those living with a diagnosed infection. To estimate the undiagnosed population an instrument developed by the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), called the ECDC HIV Modeling Tool [2] is used. And HIV cohort data are used to estimate the number of people living with a diagnosed infection.

ECDC and the WHO Regional Office for Europe jointly coordinate HIV/AIDS surveillance in Europe [3]. The international comparability has some limitations since the national surveillance systems differ in levels of underreporting and reporting delay.


New HIV diagnoses
A new HIV diagnosis is defined as a first HIV diagnosis. People, mainly foreigners, with an HIV diagnosis or in care for HIV in another country before their diagnosis was confirmed in Belgium are treated separately. People with known HIV infection do not represent a population that could have benefited from prevention measures in Belgium and are then presented separately. More information on them can be found in the annual epidemiological report.
HIV infection and AIDS are the acronyms of "Human Immunodeficiency Virus" (HIV) infection and "Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome" (AIDS). Initial HIV infection is most often asymptomatic, while people may experience influenza-like symptoms. This is followed by a prolonged period with no symptoms. If the infection progresses, it interferes more with the immune system, increasing the risk of developing infections such as tuberculosis, as well as other opportunistic infections, and tumours which are rare in people who have a normal immune function. These late symptoms of infection are referred to as AIDS. Since the late 1990s, efficient antiretroviral treatment exists that can slow down the progression of the disease.


[1] Epidémiologie du VIH en Belgique. Situation au 31 décembre 2022. Bruxelles: Sciensano; 2023.

[2] European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control. HIV Modelling Tool. 2015.

[3] European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control/WHO Regional Office for Europe. HIV/AIDS surveillance in Europe 2023 – 2022 data. Stockholm: ECDC; 2023.

Please cite this page as: Sciensano. Communicable Diseases: HIV, Health Status Report, 11 Jan 2023, Brussels, Belgium,