One in five individuals infected with HIV is living their life oblivious to the fact, new figures have reveals. According to a new study carried out across Great Britain, at least a fifth of people carrying the HIV infection do not realise they have the virus.
Last year, an all-time record for the UK of 3,250 new cases of HIV were recorded in men sexually active with other men. Once again, the call has been put out for those in the highest risk brackets to come forward for testing sooner rather than later.
On the whole, there was a 1% increase in the number of diagnosed HIV cases during 2012 to reach a total of 6,360 patients. However, just under half of all individuals affected did not realise that they had contracted HIV until the late stages of the condition, by which time treatment becomes extremely difficult
“In the UK, people who are unaware of their infection are likely to be those most at risk of transmitting HIV to others,” said Public Health England’s head of HIV, Prof Noel Gill.
“Around half of men who have sex with men recently diagnosed with HIV received their diagnosis the first time they tested, which is a strong indication that many men who should be testing are not.”
The study suggests that while a full 98,400 UK residents are carrying the HIV infection, just under 22,000 have no idea they have contracted it. Infection rates are slowly on the decline, but experts warn that now is not the time for complacency but rather a marked step-up in proactivity.
“We’ve come so far, but we have to keep going,’ said Paul Ward on behalf of the Terrence Higgins Trust.
“We know testing works and treatment works; all we need is the individual commitment and public funding to make it happen.”
“If we can get this, we can turn the tide of the epidemic.”