NAT welcomes recommendations within House of Lords' report on HIV.
30 years after the first known case of HIV, the House of Lords' report ‘No vaccine, no cure: HIV and AIDS in the United Kingdom’ is an important milestone in the UK's response to HIV.
With the number of people diagnosed with HIV who were infected here in the UK rising, NAT welcomes the report's clear focus on prevention. There are currently around 1,000 heterosexuals infected with HIV in the UK each year and we are failing to effectively address their needs*. Research from NAT shows a serious gap in knowledge among the general public with one in five adults unaware that using a condom can prevent HIV during sex between a man and a woman. The Lords' report rightly highlights the importance of public education and awareness and NAT strongly agrees with their recommendation that sex and relationships education (SRE) should be taught in all schools.
However, the majority of diagnosed infections that occur in the UK are among gay and bisexual men. New HPA statistics, also released today, show that 3,000 gay and bisexual men were diagnosed in 2010 - the highest ever number - so the report's recommendations for targeted HIV prevention are crucial.
Deborah Jack, Chief Executive of NAT (National AIDS Trust), comments:
‘NAT welcomes the recommendations in this report. It is essential that HIV prevention is treated as public health priority by the Government and is a core element of new local public health strategies.
‘An increased emphasis on HIV prevention in the UK needs to be matched by improved offer and take-up of HIV testing so NAT welcomes the range of recommendations within the report which will make this happen. Crucially, this report identifies late diagnosis of HIV as a serious issue and makes the case for a national public health indicator on late diagnosis – something NAT has been calling for.
‘The report covers more than 50 recommendations for action and it’s important for the Government to act on these – not in a piecemeal fashion – but with a cohesive strategy for HIV which brings all these elements together.'
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Notes to the editor:
* NAT has produced a document detailing the prevention needs of the general public which can be downloaded below.
**References to gay men include bisexual men and men who sleep with men but do not identify themselves as gay or bisexual.
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NAT (National AIDS Trust) is the UK’s leading charity dedicated to transforming society’s response to HIV. We provide fresh thinking, expertise and practical resources. We champion the rights of people living with HIV and campaign for change.
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