To coincide with World AIDS Day, Public Health England (PHE) has released its annual statistics relating to HIV infection.
Key findings include:
- 6,095 people were diagnosed with HIV in 2015 (4,551 men and 1,537 women), and 39% were diagnosed at a late stage of the infection, when they are at risk of serious illness or dying prematurely. The 2014 figure was 6,151, so this represents a slight fall in numbers.
- Of the 6,095, 54% (3,320) were gay and bisexual men.
- An estimated 101,200 people are living with HIV in the UK. Of these more than 13,500 are living with an undiagnosed infection
- Almost half (43%) of all new HIV diagnoses in 2015 were in London.
- There were an estimated 40,250 people living with HIV in London in 2015 – but approximately 4,420 (11%) are unaware they are infected.
- One third of all people living with undiagnosed HIV in the UK in 2015 were Londoners
- HIV prevalence among men who have sex with men (MSM) remains high in London. One in every seven gay and bisexual are estimated to live with HIV, while this figure falls to one in 25 nationally.
PHE is encouraging people to get tested.It is offering free home-testing kits to those living in the UK via www.freetesting.hiv.
Professor Yvonne Doyle, London regional director for Public Health England said in a statement:
‘Testing for HIV is vital to ensure people are diagnosed as promptly as possible. There is effective treatment available and those who are diagnosed early can expect to live long and healthy lives. Early diagnosis is also key to preventing onward transmission of the infection.’
‘I cannot stress enough the importance of getting tested for HIV, whether you consider yourself at high risk or not’
Dr Valerie Delpech, Head of HIV surveillance at PHE, said: ‘It is very worrying that so many people with HIV are living with an undiagnosed infection and may be putting sexual partners at risk.
‘Regular HIV testing ensures that people who are unaware of their infection are quickly diagnosed and start receiving safe and effective treatment.
‘There are now several effective ways to prevent HIV transmission. We are again working with local authorities to fund the HIV home-sampling test kit, so that those people who are less likely to visit their GP, sexual health clinic for a HIV test – can take the test at home.
‘It is essential that health services are aware of the prevalence of HIV in their local area and the potential demand for HIV testing.
‘Ultimately, it is important that people avoid the risk of developing HIV by wearing a condom and practicing safe sex.’
Dr Patrick French, a sexual health specialist and genitourinary medicine consultant at Central and North West London NHS Foundation Trust, said, ‘As a sexual health specialist and HIV consultant I cannot stress enough the importance of getting tested for HIV, whether you consider yourself at high risk or not.’
‘80% of new HIV infections comes from having unprotected sex with someone who has not being diagnosed’
Ian Howley, interim CEO of gay men’s health charity, GMFA told GSN, ‘It’s important that gay and bisexual men test for HIV at least once a year. GMFA recommends that if you are having lots of sexual partners then you should test more often. If you are having unprotected sex then you should test more frequently.
‘It’s important that gay and bisexual men test, about 80% of new HIV infections comes from having unprotected sex with someone who has not being diagnosed.
‘What these new statistics show us is that we need more investment in prevention, testing and education around HIV and STIs. We have seen a decrease in funding year on year, which is making it more difficult to reach the key gay and bisexual men who need information and education on how to prevent HIV.’