Homophobia and a “Soviet hangover” are driving HIV infections in parts of Eastern Europe and Central Asia, according to David Furnish, AIDS campaigner and Sir Elton John’s husband. While the rate of new HIV infections is decreasing globally – falling 40 per cent since its peak in 1997 – certain areas of the world are witnessing increasing rates. The highest rate of new infections is in Eastern Europe and Central Asia – ahead of the Middle East and the Caribbean. Between 2010 and 2018, the region saw a 29 per cent annual increase in new HIV infections. Deaths from AIDs have increased by roughly 300 per cent in the last 20 years in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, and it is often within already marginalised communities that HIV rates can snowball. Having recently visited Armenia with Sir Elton, ahead of the launch of the Foundation’s new programme in the region, RADIAN – in which they have partnered with pharmaceutical company Gilead – Furnish said they saw firsthand how prejudice was allowing HIV and AIDs rates to continue to rise.