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Home News centre National Press Releases 2012 Press Releases ›  HPA welcomes national HIV testing week as new data show quarter of people living with HIV remain undiagnosed in UK

HPA welcomes national HIV testing week as new data show quarter of people living with HIV remain undiagnosed in UK

29 November 2012

According to latest Health Protection Agency (HPA) figures there were 6,280 new HIV diagnoses in 2011, taking the total number of people living with HIV in the UK to around 96,000. Publishing in National HIV Testing Week, the data show although late HIV diagnoses dropped slightly in 2011 (47 per cent, from 50 per cent in 2010), a quarter of people with HIV remained unaware of their status.


The ‘HIV in the UK’ report also found:

  • New diagnoses among men who have sex with men (MSM) reached an all-time high in 2011 (3,010) – nearly one in 12 MSM in London and one in 20 in the UK now has HIV (47 per 1,000).
  • The black African community also remained at higher HIV risk in 2011 with 37 per 1,000 living with the infection.
  • Nearly half of all new diagnoses were acquired heterosexually (2,990; 48 per cent). Of these, over half were probably acquired in the UK in 2011, compared to only 27 per cent in 2002.
  • The small decline in the total new diagnoses (from 6400 in 2010 to 6,280 in 2011) was driven by a reduction in diagnoses among people born outside the UK.
  • Overall HIV prevalence in the UK was 1.5 per 1,000 population.

Dr Valerie Delpech, HPA head of HIV surveillance, said “These figures are a reminder of how vital safe sex programmes remain. Promoting HIV testing and condom use is crucial to tackling the high rates of transmission, late diagnosis and undiagnosed HIV still seen in the UK. National HIV Testing Week is a great opportunity to encourage people to get tested. We also encourage clinicians to take every opportunity to offer the test to those in higher risk groups and, in high prevalence areas, to all general medical admission and new GP registrants.

“The good news is that with the excellent services and treatments available nowadays, if diagnosed and treated early someone with HIV can look forward to a normal lifespan, as well as protecting their sexual partners from infection. That’s why it is vitally important that anyone who has been at risk gets an HIV test, and that those in higher risk groups get screened regularly.”

How to reduce your risk of getting or transmitting HIV or Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI)

  • Always use a condom correctly and consistently when having sex with new or casual partners, until all partners have had a sexual health screen.
  • Avoid overlapping sexual relationships and reduce the number of sexual partners.
  • Get screened regularly if you are in one of the higher risk groups:
    • Men who have sex with men should have an HIV and STI screen at least annually, and every three months if having unprotected sex with new or casual partners.
    • People from the black African and Caribbean communities should have an HIV test, and a regular HIV and STI screen if having unprotected sex with new or casual partners.

ENDS

Notes to Editors

1. For more information please contact the national HPA press office at Colindale on 0208 327 7901 or email colindale-pressoffice@hpa.org.uk. Out of hours: 0208 200 4400.

2. The full ‘HIV in the UK’ 2012 report can be accessed on the HPA website: http://www.hpa.org.uk/Publications/InfectiousDiseases/HIVAndSTIs/

3. Additional key findings from the HPA 2012 ‘HIV in the UK’ report included:

  • An estimated 96,000 (90,800-102,500) people were living with HIV in the UK by the end of 2011, an increase from 91,500 (85,400-99,000) in 2010.
  • Rates of new HIV diagnoses and HIV prevalence continue to be significantly higher in London than elsewhere in the UK. The city contains 18 of the 20 local authorities with the highest prevalence of HIV infection.
  • There has been a slow but significant decline in the proportion of people diagnosed late (CD4 cell count <350 cells/mm3) over the past decade, particularly among MSM. Nevertheless, the overall proportion of late diagnoses remained high in 2011 (47%). People diagnosed late have a tenfold increased risk of dying within a year of diagnosis.
  • 73,660 people living with a diagnosed HIV infection received care in 2011, representing a 58% increase since 2002. The most deprived areas in the UK also have the highest HIV prevalence; this health inequality is particularly evident in London where diagnosed HIV prevalence is as high as 14 per 1,000 in the most deprived areas and less than 1.6 per 1,000 in the least deprived areas.
  • 88% of people for whom treatment was indicated were receiving antiretroviral therapy (ART) in 2011. Furthermore, 87% of people receiving HIV care were virally suppressed and were therefore unlikely to be infectious.
  • In 2011, 70% of all sexually transmitted infection (STI) clinic attendees received an HIV test; with the highest coverage among MSM (83%).
  • Almost two-thirds of MSM newly diagnosed as HIV-infected at an STI clinic had not attended that clinic for testing in the previous three years, which strongly suggests there is room for improvement in the frequency of testing by those at highest risk.
  • There has been very little commissioning of routine HIV testing of general medical admissions and in the general practice setting.

4. The Health Protection Agency is an independent UK organisation that was set up by the government in 2003 to protect the public from threats to their health from infectious diseases and environmental hazards. In April 2013 the Health Protection Agency will become part of a new organisation called Public Health England, an executive agency of the Department of Health. To find out more, visit our website: www.hpa.org.uk or follow us on Twitter @HPAuk
 

Last reviewed: 29 November 2012