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Wednesday, 28 November, 2001, 13:58 GMT
HIV creeps up in 'complacent' UK
HIV test
More people are testing positive for HIV
Despite years of heavily-funded HIV prevention campaigns, the rate of new infections is on the increase in the UK.

The UNAids report on the global Aids epidemic highlights complacency as one of the factors which has fuelled the spread of the illness.

Their statistics for western Europe show that, this year, there are 560,000 children and adults living with HIV or Aids - approximately 0.3% of the total population.

This compares with 8.4% of the population in sub-Saharan Africa, the worst-hit region.

However, there will an estimated 30,000 new cases of HIV in Western Europe in 2001, said UNAids.

In the UK, the Public Health Laboratory Service, which monitors rates of infectious diseases, said that more than 3,600 people were newly-diagnosed with HIV in 2000 - an increase of approximately a sixth.

A spokesman for the PHLS told BBC News Online: "What this shows us is that HIV has clearly not gone away - in 2000 we have seen the highest number of HIV diagnoses since records began.

"As this coincides with a substantial increase in other sexually-transmitted diseases, the probability is that people are taking more risks and having unsafe sex."

Part of the reason for the increase in risk-taking is thought to be the remarkable success of antiretroviral treatments - which can slow or halt the progress of HIV for many years, although they do not cure the infection.

The UNAids report says that HIV is moving into poorer communities in high-income countries.

"Young adults belonging to ethnic minorities face considerably greater risks of infection than they did five years ago in the USA."

In the UK, HIV charity the Terrence Higgins Trust warned that matters could deteriorate still further.

A spokesman said: "The HIV epidemic is spiralling out of control globally, and still has the potential to do so in the UK.

"Prejudice, discrimination and denial have all contributed to the rapid spread of the epidemic, and in the UK, the prevention campaigns of the 1980's are a distant memory.

"This report highlights yet again that young people will bear the brunt of HIV because we lack the courage to arm them against it."

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