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The British HIV Association (BHIVA) has expressed extreme concern over statistics in the Health Protection Agency (HPA) annual report on HIV in the UK.
The report estimates that the number of people living in the UK with HIV has reached 91,500, of whom one quarter remain unaware of their infection.
The increasing numbers are in large part the result of infections acquired among men who have sex with men (MSM), with estimates that one in 20 gay men may now be infected with HIV nationally and one in 12 in London.
“The information in the HPA report highlights the rising rates of HIV infection amongst gay men in the UK at a time when HIV is falling off the publics’ radar and politicians’ agenda,” said Professor Jane Anderson, Chairman, BHIVA.
“The high rate of recent infection, particularly amongst younger men, underscores the urgent need for improved prevention and earlier testing.
“That one fifth of people visiting an STI clinic declines the offer of an HIV test is a shocking and disheartening statistic, when today’s treatment for HIV can prevent further transmission and increase life expectancy.
“High quality clinical care for HIV exists in the UK. Yet still too many people only get tested when their HIV infection is at an advanced stage, compromising both their own health and that of their sexual partners.
“Health care providers and the public must not become complacent in the face of this infection; we must prioritise HIV testing and prompt clinical care for those diagnosed positive If we are to get on top of this epidemic.”