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Survey reveals ‘serious gaps’ in HIV knowledge

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Experts have called for the government to re-invest in HIV education after a survey revealed ‘serious gaps’ in the public’s knowledge of the disease.

Findings from the National AIDS Trust’s Public Attitudes to HIV survey, published today, showed that significantly fewer people in 2007 are able to identify all the ‘correct’ ways in which HIV is transmitted than were able to do so seven years ago.

According to the survey, 21% of the British public did not know sex without a condom between a man and a woman is a way of contracting HIV, compared to just 9% in 2000.

Over a quarter (26%) also failed to identify unprotected sex between two men as a way of getting the disease, compared to 12% in the 2000 survey.

In 2000, only 12% of the British public did not cite sharing a syringe when injecting drugs as a way of contracting the disease. In 2007, this figure rose to 31%.

Deborah Jack, chief executive of the National AIDS Trust, said: ‘In recent years we have witnessed knowledge and understanding about HIV decline at the same time that HIV diagnoses have reached an all time high. By 2010 there will be over 100,000 people living with HIV in the UK if current trends continue.

‘We cannot afford to be complacent about HIV education. Ignorance about HIV increases vulnerability to infection and also contributes to stigma and discrimination,’ she added.

www.nat.org.uk

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