HIV is everybody’s business, says charity, as hundreds more diagnosed in the West Midlands
Thursday 29 November 2012
Timed to coincide with England’s first ever National HIV Testing Week, new figures released today by the Health Protection Agency (HPA) show there were 6,390 people living with in the West Midlands in 2011. A quarter of these people were undiagnosed and therefore at risk of serious health problems.
Someone who is diagnosed late, after the point at which they should have started treatment, is ten times more likely to die within a year of receiving their diagnosis than someone who tests in good time. In addition, undiagnosed HIV is a key factor driving the UK’s HIV epidemic, with the majority of onward transmission coming from those who are unaware that they have the infection.
The new figures show there were 440 people newly diagnosed in the West Midlands in 2011, an increase of 94% from 2001.
This brought the total number of people accessing HIV care in the region to 4,857, an increase of 7% from 2010.
There are now an estimated 100,000 people living with HIV in the UK, the highest number since the epidemic began. Gay and bisexual men and African communities remain the two groups most affected. However, the figures show an increasing number of heterosexuals are contracting the virus in this country, as opposed to overseas.
Mick Mason, Regional Manager for the Midlands at Terrence Higgins Trust, said: “Thirty years on from the start of the epidemic, public understanding of HIV has dropped to a worrying level. As a result, we are starting to see a significant increase in the number of heterosexuals contracting the virus in the UK. It is important that everyone, no matter their age or background, understands that nobody is immune from infection. We all have a responsibility to get our understanding of the virus up to a basic level, and know how to keep ourselves and our loved ones safe.”
National HIV Testing Week runs from 23rd – 30th November. It is being co-ordinated by Terrence Higgins Trust through HIV Prevention England, a partnership of community organisations funded by the Department of Health to carry out national HIV prevention work in England among communities at an increased risk of infection. For further information, visit www.tht.org.uk/HIVtestingweek.
Other national findings:
• 6,280 people were diagnosed with HIV in 2011, a 1% decrease on the previous year.
• Nearly half (47%) of those people were diagnosed late, after a point at which they should have started treatment.
• 500 people with HIV died in 2011.
• 48% of new diagnoses in 2011 were among heterosexuals, and 52% of those infections were acquired in the UK.
• 73,660 people in the UK accessed HIV care in 2011, an increase of 6% on 2010 and more than a threefold increase since 2000.