According to the annual report from the Italian health ministry over 51,000 people in Italy have been diagnosed with AIDS since the virus was first discovered in 1981. Of these 35,000 have died. The health ministry estimates that up to 120,000 Italians are currently infected with HIV, half of whom have not been tested and are unaware of their condition. According to AIDS researcher Adriano Lazzarin, only 30 per cent of Italians have been tested for HIV compared to 60 per cent of the French. As a result, around half of all diagnoses in Italy come after the virus has matured into full-blown AIDS.

As in many other countries, the demographics of the disease have changed considerably over the years. Today, drug addicts account for just over a quarter of Italians testing positive for HIV, down from 58 per cent in 1997. 43.7 per cent of HIV positive Italians say they contracted the disease from heterosexual intercourse, up from 27.4 per cent eleven years ago. As of 2007, foreigners accounted for over 20 per cent of people who tested positive for HIV in Italy, compared to around five per cent in 1997.

On the positive side, AIDS-related mortality has been on the decline since 1995, the epidemic