Prevention and testing
In this page:
HIV cannot be passed on through kissing, touching, spitting, coughing or sneezing.
HIV - which causes AIDS - can be transmitted through body fluids, in particular blood, semen, vaginal secretions and breast milk.
HIV transmission can be prevented but the number of people living with HIV is increasing in every region of the world, including the UK.
In 2008, nearly 7,300 people were diagnosed with HIV in the UK, almost three times the number diagnosed ten years ago, and the third highest number of people diagnosed with HIV in a single year.
More than one in four people living with HIV in the UK do not know that they are infected and there is still stigma attached to being tested for HIV. People are also less aware of the risks of HIV transmission than they were ten years ago; an Ipsos MORI survey we commissioned in 2007 found that 90 per cent of the British public do not fully understand how HIV is - and is not - transmitted.
We are campaigning for more investment and greater commitment to HIV prevention both in the UK and worldwide, and are working to increase awareness of HIV among people in the UK. We are also campaigning for greater investment in effective prevention programmes that target high-risk communities - in particular gay men, black Africans, black Caribbeans and injecting drug users - which is needed to tackle the growing HIV epidemic in the UK.
Testing needs to be made more easily accessible to reduce the high numbers of people living with HIV who are currently undiagnosed and the proportion of people diagnosed late, which can harm their health and increase the chance they will pass the virus on to others. NAT is working with key stakeholders including the national sexual health team at the Department of Health and NHS commissioners on improving HIV prevention and testing across the UK.
New prevention technologies
New methods of HIV prevention, such as vaccines and microbicides, are urgently needed to stop the spread of HIV worldwide. This is a particular issue for women who are often unable to negotiate condom use. We are advocating for greater investment to accelerate the development of these new methods of prevention, which have the potential to save millions of lives worldwide.
Support our work
We rely on the generosity of our donors to enable us to continue our vital work - if you've found our thinking on prevention and testing helpful then please click this link to make a donation.