The number of people with HIV in the North West is on the increase, according to a new study, with almost half of all new cases resulting from heterosexual sex.
The total number of HIV positive patients being treated in 2007 reached the highest level ever at 5,212 - a 9% increase on the 4,761 of 2006, the report found.
The most frequent route of infection for newly reported HIV cases was heterosexual sex, with 401 individuals, or 49%, reported as new cases. The number of new cases in gay men is also substantial at 345, some 42% of all new cases.
The data, compiled by the Centre for Public Health at Liverpool John Moores University and the North West Health Protection Agency, showed a 10% decrease in the number of cases new to the monitoring system to 817, down from 907 in 2006.
The number of new cases infected through sex between men, injecting drug users and heterosexual sex had also decreased compared with 2006.
Dr Penny Cook, reader in Public Health Epidemiology and co-author of the report, said: "Although the reduction in new cases this year is good news we must not get complacent about HIV. We must ensure that prevention and treatment services continue to help those most in need."