More than 21,000 people living with HIV in the UK are unaware of their infection, according to a new Public Health England (PHE) report.
Close to half (47%) of the 6,360 people newly diagnosed with HIV in 2012 were identified late, the report shows.
And new HIV diagnoses among men who have sex with men (MSM) have reached an all time high, with 3,250 cases in 2012.
There was a small decline in the number of people living with HIV who were unaware of the condition, the report shows. But PHE believes improvements must be made, as early diagnosis and timely treatment can mean a near-normal lifespan with current treatments.
Professor Kevin Fenton, PHE’s Health and Wellbeing Director, said “National HIV Testing Week is a great opportunity to alert people to the benefits of testing – for individuals and for the UK’s public health. PHE is urging members of the public, clinicians, commissioners and community leaders to support and engage with the campaign.”
Professor Noel Gill, head of PHE’s HIV and STI department, “In the UK, people who are unaware of their infection are likely to be those most at risk of transmitting HIV to others. We must increase the speed at which we’re reducing the number of undiagnosed HIV infections by encouraging earlier and more frequent HIV testing, especially by those most at-risk. Earlier diagnosis will help reduce new HIV infections across the UK.
“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. National HIV Testing Week gives people a great opportunity to get tested.”