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Sexual health poll to monitor HIV

A pioneering project is to quiz African people living in England, as well as lesbian and bisexual women, about their sexual health as part of a survey monitoring HIV infections.

The Sigma Research group from the University of Portsmouth is launching four different studies aimed at putting together a picture of the extent of HIV rates in England.

It is hoped that a greater understanding of the national situation could help curb the spread of the disease, a university spokeswoman said.

Many of those with HIV in African communities in this country fear stigmatisation and even deportation, which acts as a deterrent to people coming forward for testing for HIV and sexually transmitted infections.

The spokeswoman said: "For the first time, and in an attempt to reduce the spread of HIV, African people in England will be invited to take part in a survey about sexual health and HIV."

A total of 5,000 people from Africa, aged 16 or older, will be asked to take part in the BASS Line survey, which has been commissioned by the Department of Health-funded National African HIV Prevention Programme.

The lesbian and bisexual women's health survey is being conducted in collaboration with Stonewall and De Montfort University, and is funded by the Lloyds TSB Foundation.

As well as these two surveys, Sigma will be questioning more than 13,000 gay and bisexual men for its Vital Statistics Survey.

And it will be carrying out a fourth survey on behalf of the Terrence Higgins Trust into the needs of those living with HIV.

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University of Portsmouth