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New Figures Show Increasing Number of People Living with HIV

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Growing number of hetrosexuals acquiring HIV within the UK

The latest figures from the Health Protection Agency reveal that the number of people living with HIV in the UK increased to an estimated 77,400 in 2007, with 7,734 new diagnoses in 2007 alone. Although high, the number of people diagnosed with HIV each year seems to have reached a plateau but this disguises more worrying trends.

Increase in Heterosexual Transmission in the UK

The estimated number of people diagnosed who were infected through heterosexual contact within the UK has increased from 540 new diagnoses in 2003 to 960 in 2007, and has doubled from 11 per cent to 23 per cent as a proportion of all heterosexual diagnoses in this period. 

Need to get better at diagnosing HIV early

Over a quarter (28 per cent) of people living with HIV are unaware of their infection and many of those that are diagnosed are being diagnosed late - after the point at which they should have started treatment. 42 per cent of heterosexual men were diagnosed late and 36 per cent of heterosexual women compared to 19 per cent of gay or bisexual men.  People diagnosed late are thirteen times more likely to die within a year of diagnosis.

Many people risking health by delaying treatment

The statistics also highlight an area of growing concern – the number of people choosing not to start or to delay starting treatment. Almost one in five of people with diagnosed HIV who are at the point when it is recommended treatment begin nevertheless have made the decision not to start treatment. 

Deborah Jack, Chief Executive of NAT (National AIDS Trust), comments:

“Each year a significant number of people are diagnosed with HIV, showing we still have much more to do to reduce ongoing HIV infection in the UK.  Funding for prevention and testing must be increased and the Government must begin to take seriously the public health challenge of HIV in the UK, as it is growing each year.

Most worrying is the number of people who should be on HIV treatment but who in fact are not - whether because they are unaware of their infection or because they are opting not to start treatment when recommended. Treatment for HIV has revolutionised the condition and people with HIV can now expect a good life expectancy if they are diagnosed early and take their medication as advised. By not getting treatment people are risking their health.”

Notes to the editor:

The full report from the Health Protection Agency is available at:
http://www.hpa.org.uk/webw/HPAweb&HPAwebStandard/HPAweb_C/1227515310331?...

For further information please contact:

Katherine Sladden
Communications Officer
NAT
020 7814 6733 / 07947 725299
press@nat.org.uk