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18 November 2016, 14:03

Experts concerned about rise of late diagnosis of HIV among straight people in UK

Experts concerned about rise of late diagnosis of HIV among straight people in UK - Bild 1

An “alarming” rise in the number of late-stage HIV cases in the UK is down to more straight people being diagnosed with the disease, experts said today.

Four out of 10 people who were newly diagnosed last year were told they were in the late-stages of the disease – when the virus has began its attack on the immune system.

Straight men were the most likely to be diagnosed late (55 per cent), according to the Public Health England figures.

They were followed by black African men and women (53 per cent) and straight women (49 per cent).

In contrast the rates of late diagnosis among men who have sex with men were lower than average, at 30 per cent.

Yet this group is still at high-risk, representing 54 per cent of all new HIV diagnoses in 2015.

National HIV Testing Week, which starts on Saturday, is “needed now more than ever”, according to experts in response to the statistics, who have called for a “culture shift” in attitudes to HIV testing.

Ian Green, chief executive of Terrence Higgins Trust, said: “These statistics show that National HIV Testing Week is needed more than ever.

The HIV epidemic hasn’t gone away; there are still alarming and unacceptable rates of late diagnoses, which perpetuate the spread of HIV in the UK.

“We already have a powerful tool that could help stop the epidemic in its tracks: the HIV test.
“People who know their status can get onto effective treatment, which stops the virus from being passed on.

“But too many people are missing out on HIV tests – perhaps due to fear of the result, or the assumption that they’re not at risk.

“These statistics remind us that HIV is an issue for everyone.

“We want to create a culture shift so that regular testing becomes the norm in every community.”

Earlier this year, Prince Harry took an HIV test in front of the world’s media – and almost immediately, Terrence Higgins Trust saw a five-fold increase in demand for self-test kits.

“The ‘Prince Harry effect’ showed us just now much work there is still to be done to tackle stigma around testing for HIV – as soon as one high profile individual lifted the lid on how easy it is to take an HIV test, people’s fear temporarily evaporated,” said Ian.

“We hope that National HIV Testing Week is another chance to demystify the process of getting tested.

Autor: Marina Shegay

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