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HIV Continues To Grow In The UK

July 27, 2011

Figures released by the UK's Health Protection Agency today show that, in 2009, an estimated 85,000 people were living with HIV in the UK, a 2.4% percent increase on 2008's figures, with 61,000 people accessing HIV care and one in five of these aged 50 years or over.

While the rate of increase in diagnoses is slowing down, the number of people living with HIV is still growing, with 7% more people accessing HIV care in 2009 than the previous year. Half of these people (52%) were diagnosed late, when they should have already begun treatment for HIV, and a quarter of those living with HIV, 24%, are still undiagnosed, unaware that they are infected.

Sir Nick Partridge, Chief Executive for the UK's leading HIV and sexual health charity, Terrence Higgins Trust, said: "With more people living with HIV than ever before in the UK it's vitally important we invest in targeted HIV prevention and awareness programmes, particularly for gay men who are most at risk. We also need to re-double work to get people to test, to reduce the high numbers of people who don't know that they have HIV for far too long before being tested and prevent needless deaths.

"If you're diagnosed with HIV promptly after being infected there's no reason why you can't live a long and reasonably healthy life into your seventies, as many people with the condition are now doing, but you need to find out early on to get the maximum benefit from treatment. HIV is still the fastest growing incurable sexually transmitted infection in the UK and we must do more locally and nationally to stop HIV in its tracks."

Other key national findings:

- There were 6,630 new HIV diagnoses in 2009 a decline in new diagnoses for the fourth year running

- There has been a steady increase in the number of heterosexual transmissions in the UK, over 1,000 people

- Gay men remain at greatest risk- with 2,760 newly diagnosed in 2009, four out of five acquiring their infection in the UK. One gay man in seven on the London gay scene now has HIV.

- There was a 95% uptake of HIV testing in antenatal clinics and a 77% uptake in sexually transmitted infection (STI) clinics in England

- HIV treatment is of a high standard and makes a rapid improvement to health. Eighty per cent of people were seen in an HIV clinic within one month of diagnosis, 90% of these had an undetectable viral load one year after starting therapy and 93% of those in care for more than a year, had a healthy CD4 (white blood cell) count of above 200..

Terrence Higgins Trust

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