The number of people newly diagnosed with HIV in the UK who contracted the virus through heterosexual sex has started to fall in recent years since the peak year of 2005.
However, this fall is mostly due to fewer diagnoses among people infected heterosexually abroad – at the same time heterosexual infections acquired in the UK continue to increase. Since 1999 heterosexual sex had overtaken sex between men as the most common route of transmission among new HIV cases overall. However in 2011 new diagnoses acquired through sex between men overtook heterosexual transmissions again.
In 2012, heterosexual transmission accounted for 45 per cent of those newly diagnosed in the UK. It is now thought that the majority of people diagnosed in 2012 through heterosexual sex were actually exposed to the virus in the UK (52 per cent), compared to only 27 per cent in 2002 .
In 2012, 52 per cent of all new heterosexual HIV diagnoses were probably acquired in the UK.
Those infected with HIV through heterosexual sex account for:
- 45 per cent of new HIV cases in 2012 - 2,880 infections in total.
- 49 per cent of the total number of people needing HIV care, making a total of 37,713 people.
An estimated 53,000 heterosexuals were living with HIV in the UK in 2012. Among this group:
- One in four (27 per cent) are undiagnosed. Men are more likely to be undiagnosed than women. (Most probably because many women with HIV are diagnosed by routine testing during pregnancy).
- 60 per cent are of black African ethnicity.
- About half of those born abroad are thought to have acquired HIV in the UK.
- In 2012, 57 per cent of heterosexual women and 65 per cent of heterosexual men were diagnosed late, after they should have started on medication.