HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) slowly destroys the body's immune system, and can potentially develop into AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome). If left untreated, HIV increases the risk of developing life threatening infections or cancers.
While there has been a steady decline in the number of people diagnosed late in recent years, of the 6,280 new cases in 2011, almost half (47%) were late diagnoses. A late diagnosis increases a person's risk of dying within a year by tenfold. In addition, up to a quarter of those with the disease are completely unaware of the fact that they have it and are at a serious risk of spreading HIV around the country.
The report indicates that 1.5 per 1000 people in the UK are infected with HIV, with more than half of those diagnosed in 2011 being men who had sex with men (MSM). One in 12 MSM in London and one in 20 in the country are infected with HIV (47 per 1,000). The black African community are also at a higher risk.
According to Dr Valerie Delpech, HPA head of HIV surveillance:
"These figures are a reminder of how vital safe sex programmes remain. Promoting HIV testing and condom use is crucial to tackling the high rates of transmission, late diagnosis and undiagnosed HIV still seen in the UK. National HIV Testing Week is a great opportunity to encourage people to get tested. We also encourage clinicians to take every opportunity to offer the test to those in higher risk groups and, in high prevalence areas, to all general medical admission and new GP registrants."
"The good news is that with the excellent services and treatments available nowadays, if diagnosed and treated early someone with HIV can look forward to a normal lifespan, as well as protecting their sexual partners from infection. That's why it is vitally important that anyone who has been at risk gets an HIV test, and that those in higher risk groups get screened regularly."
How to Prevent HIV
- Always engage in safe sex and be sure to use a condom correctly.
- Never share injecting equipment such as needles or syringes.
- Avoid having a lot of sexual partners.
- If you belong to a high risk group (MSM or black Africans) make sure you are screened frequently.
HIV Research and Findings
- According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over half of young americans with HIV don't know they have it.
- Researchers from George Mason University recently discovered a groundbreaking new way to fight HIV by aiming at a cellular target that HIV depends on to exist, and then shutting it down.