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20% adults unaware of unprotected sex HIV risk

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New research has suggested that 20% of adults do not know that HIV can be spread between a man and woman having sex without a condom.

A poll conducted for the National AIDS Trust also found that one in five are unaware that HIV can be passed through unprotected sex between gay men, while 55% do not know that the disease can be transmitted through sharing syringes and needles.

The number of adults who incorrectly think that kissing and spitting spreads HIV is on the rise, with 10% of respondents under this impression, compared with 2007’s figure of 5%.

The trust poll has been included in a report on public knowledge and attitudes about HIV.

People were given a list of 11 possible routes of HIV transmission and asked to select those that applied to the disease.

Only 30% of people could correctly identify all HIV transmission routes, while one in 12 adults (8%) could not identify any sex without a condom - whether heterosexual or homosexual - as a route.

Deborah Jack, chief executive of the NAT, said: “As the number of people with HIV in the UK approaches 100,000, it is crucial for everyone to understand the facts around how HIV is passed on, so they can protect themselves and others.

“While HIV disproportionately affects gay men and African people, the number of people with HIV who are not in these groups is steadily rising, and unfortunately there does still remain a serious amount of confusion around HIV transmission.”

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