At the end of 2007 it was estimated that around 800,000 people were living with HIV in Western and Central Europe. This represents 8.1 % increase over the estimated 740,000 in 2006. Although the number of people living with HIV and AIDS in Europe is relatively small when compared to the number of people living with HIV in areas such as Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, HIV/AIDS in Western and Central Europe is still considered a major public health issue. The highest rates were reported from Estonia, Portugal and Latvia; the lowest rates were reported by Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Romania. The number of people dying from AIDS in this region has significantly decreased since the introduction of combination antiretroviral treatment in the mid-1990s. Most Western and Central European countries benefit from wealthy economies, stable infrastructures and developed healthcare systems, making significant progress in scaling up towards universal access, including access to antiretroviral therapy and prevention of mother-child transmission. HIV is now often considered a chronic disease, instead of a death sentence.