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One quarter of HIV infections go undiagnosed

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More than a quarter of people who have HIV are unaware they have it, figures have revealed.

Data published by the Health Protection Agency (HPA) shows that in 2009, an estimated 86,500 people were living with HIV, with almost 22,500 undiagnosed.

In 2009, there were 6,630 new cases of HIV among 4,400 men and 2,230 women. This is the fourth year that there has been drop in new cases, although the proportion of undiagnosed cases has stayed at a constant level for the last decade.

Out of every 1,000 people in the UK, 1.4 have HIV, whether they know it or not.

Meanwhile, the study indicates that 52% (3,450) of people newly diagnosed in 2009 were diagnosed after a time when treatment could have already started. Subsequently, the HPA now wants to see more widespread testing, especially in areas where the number of new cases is more than two people per 1,000 population.

Of 37 health trust regions across England with levels above this, 26 are in London, where 5.24 per 1,000 people were diagnosed with HIV in 2009. Brighton and Hove has a rate of 7.57 per 1,000 people and Manchester has a rate of 5.22 per 1,000 people.

According to health officials, people who are most at risk include gay men and black Africans.

Dr Valerie Delpech, consultant epidemiologist and head of HIV surveillance at the HPA, said: “The HPA would like to see increased access to HIV testing in areas where rates of HIV infection are high.

“Pilot studies have shown that in these areas testing all adults registering at GPs or accessing certain hospital services can make an impact.

“The evidence shows that this testing is feasible to undertake and acceptable to patients.”

 

 

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