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 2012, over 6,300 people were diagnosed with HIV in the UK. Out of this total, 3,250 were men who contracted HIV through having sex with other men and 2,880 who contracted HIV through heterosexual sex. 120 individuals contracted HIV through injecting drug use.
One in four people living with HIV in the UK do not know that they are infected and there is still enormous stigma attached to being tested for HIV. It is also worrying that knowledge among the general public of how to protect oneself from HIV transmission has declined significantly over the last ten years. An Ipos MORI survey we commissioned in 2010 found that one in five people do not know that HIV is transmitted through sex without a condom and only 30% of respondents were able to correctly identify all true and false HIV transmission routes presented to them in the survey.
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 communities most at risk of contracting HIV - in particular gay men, black Africans, black Caribbeans and injecting drug users - which must be done if we are 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.
PrEP and PEP
HIV medication can be used to prevent HIV transmission. Read about two important examples and their availability in the UK - PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) and PEP (post-exposure prophylaxis).
Halve It Campaign
‘Halve It’ is a new coalition of HIV and healthcare experts – patients, clinicians, public sector, private sector, charities and politicians – who are determined to tackle the continued public health challenges posed by HIV and call on all levels of government to make HIV a public health priority both locally and nationally.
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