13,500 people are living with an undiagnosed HIV infection in the UK

NIAID / Via commons.wikimedia.org

NIAID / Via commons.wikimedia.org

Close to 14,000 people are living with undiagnosed HIV in the UK, Public Health England (PHE) has revealed.

New figures published on World AIDS Day estimate that 101,200 people are living with HIV in the UK, with a large percentage unaware of their HIV status.

“It is very worrying that so many people with HIV are living with an undiagnosed infection and may be putting sexual partners at risk,” commented Dr Valerie Delpech, Head of HIV surveillance at PHE.

“It is very worrying that so many people with HIV are living with an undiagnosed infection and may be putting sexual partners at risk.

The figures also revealed that in 2015, 6,095 people [4,551 men and 1,537 women] were diagnosed with HIV in the UK, over half of which [3,320] were gay and bisexual men.

While this marks a slight decline from 2014, where 3,360 men who have sex with men were diagnosed with HIV, the figure is still worryingly high.

It’s estimated that in 2015, 47,000 gay and bisexual men were living with HIV and 12% of whom were undiagnosed.

“Regular HIV testing ensures that people who are unaware of their infection are quickly diagnosed and start receiving safe and effective treatment,” added Dr Delpech.

“There are now several effective ways to prevent HIV transmission. We are again working with local authorities to fund the HIV home-sampling test kit, so that those people who are less likely to visit their GP, sexual health clinic for a HIV test – can take the test at home. It is essential that health services are aware of the prevalence of HIV in their local area and the potential demand for HIV testing.

“Ultimately, it is important that people avoid the risk of developing HIV by wearing a condom and practicing safe sex.”

PHE say that 96% of people diagnosed with HIV are receiving treatment, which also means that almost all [94%] on treatment will have undetectable virus levels and pose a minimal risk of passing the virus on to sexual partners.

Nicola Blackwood, the Minister for Public Health said: “Stopping HIV is still a priority. It is clear that we must do more to reduce the number of undiagnosed cases however, significant progress is being made to diagnose HIV early and the proportion of people with undiagnosed HIV fell from 25% to 13% since 2010.

“We will keep working with Public Health England and NHS England to encourage people, particularly those from African communities who are often diagnosed late, to get tested and fight the stigma associated with HIV.”

Find out more about testing at freetesting.hiv and find out more about World AIDS Day at worldaidsday.org

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