63,500 Adults Now Living With HIV In The UK

Armen Hareyan's picture

An estimated 63,500 adults are now living with HIV in the UK, according to a report released today by the Health Protection Agency. This latest figure includes both those who have been diagnosed and also around a third (20,100) who remain unaware of their infection.

The report called A Complex Picture is being launched ahead of World AIDS Day and contains the most up-to-date description of both HIV and AIDS and sexually transmitted infections in the UK.

Dr Valerie Delpech, an HIV Expert at the Agency said, "We are seeing an ever increasing pool of people living with HIV and AIDS in the UK. This is due to people living longer with HIV due to advances in treatment, sustained levels of newly acquired infections in gay men, further diagnoses among heterosexuals who acquired their infection in Africa, and cases being picked up earlier.

"The high level of new HIV cases being diagnosed continued in 2005 with 7450 cases recorded, including almost 2400 new cases in gay men. Three in every hundred gay men who attended an STI clinic last year acquired their HIV infection during 2005, most probably within the UK.

"The global HIV epidemic continues to affect Black and ethnic minority populations in the UK and where ethnicity was reported this group accounted for two thirds of all new cases reported in 2005 (3691 out of 5902). Although the majority of these are contracted in countries of higher prevalence and particularly through links with Africa, more of these cases are now being contracted within the UK. The number of reports of HIV-infected black Africans who contracted their infection in the UK increased from 43 in 2000 to 182 in 2005.

"Despite some improvements we are also concerned that many HIV infections are still being diagnosed late, so that life expectancy is reduced as treatment is not begun when required. Primary care practitioners should be supported to assess the health needs of migrants and gay men including discussing the need for HIV testing to ensure these groups are diagnosed as early as possible.

"Our report has been published just after the launch of the Department of Health's new Sexual Health campaign promoting condoms as 'essential wear' for young adults. This is a welcome measure to increase awareness of sexual health among young people who are greatly affected by sexually transmitted infections. Three-quarters of genital chlamydia infections diagnosed in female STI clinic attendees in 2005 and 57% in male attendees were in the under 25 age group"


Professor Pat Troop , Chief Executive of the Agency said: "Our report, A Complex Picture , is released for World AIDS Day and also marks the 25 th anniversary of the first reported cases of AIDS in the UK and is an ideal time to reflect on progress at preventing HIV transmission and sexually transmitted infections in the UK. Over the last 25 years there have been key successes in the control and management of HIV and the Agency is tasked with taking forward a number of initiatives such as the National Chlamydia Screening Programme and monitoring of waiting times at Genitourinary medicine clinics"

People can play their own part in HIV and STI prevention by ensuring they protect themselves through practising safer sex with all new and casual partners. Anyone who thinks they have put themselves at risk of contracting infection should discuss their concerns with their general practitioner or attend a sexual health clinic. It is important to bear in mind that some sexually transmitted infections can have no symptoms.

"A Complex Picture" is a report on HIV and STIs in the UK and is published by the Health Protection Agency and collaborators in time for World AIDS Day. To see a full copy of the report, see: www.hpa.org.uk/publications/2006/hiv_sti_2006/default.htm

The figure of 63,500 people living with HIV concentrates on the age group 15 to 59, because the vast majority of undiagnosed infections are in this age band. We also know that at the end of 2005 there were a further 1650 diagnosed HIV infections in adults aged 60 or over and another 800 in children and adolescents aged 14 or under, i.e. an extra 2450 known infections. Of course there will be some more undiagnosed HIV infections in these age-groups, but the proportion of undiagnosed infections is likely to be much smaller than in those aged 15 - 59.

The report is a collaboration between the Health Protection Agency, Health Protection Scotland, the National Public Health Service for Wales, CDSC Northern Ireland, DHSSPS Northern Ireland, Information Services Division of NHS National Services Scotland and the Institute of Child Health ( London ).

World AIDS Day is on the 1 st December and the theme this year is "You, Me, Us." For further information, visit: www.worldaidscampaign.org

In 2005, 790,443 sexually transmitted diseases were diagnosed in GUM clinics in the UK compared to 767,785 in 2004.

In 2004 there were 7492 new cases of HIV diagnosed in the UK (owing to late reports this figure for 2004 has increased from the figure of 7275 mentioned in last years report).

The estimated number of people aged 15 to 59 living with HIV in the UK in 2004 was 58,300. This figure included both those who had been diagnosed and also an estimated 19,700, who remained unaware of their infection.


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