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EDITIONS
Tuesday, 26 November, 2002, 14:01 GMT
UK HIV rates at record levels
Blood test for HIV
More people are being diagnosed than ever before
An estimated 34,000 people are living with HIV in the UK.

However, one in three of these people are not aware they have the disease.

Over 4,400 people were diagnosed with HIV last year - most of these caught the disease as a result of heterosexual sex.


There are now more people living with the virus in the UK than ever before

Nick Partridge, THT
Official figures to be published later this week are expected to show a sharp rise in the number of new cases.

The government is expected to launch a new campaign shortly aimed at encouraging more people to practise safe sex and to cut the number of sexually transmitted infections, which are at record levels.

Experts predict that the number of people living with HIV will increase by 50% over the next five years.

The increase is expected to be higher in some parts of the country, especially in London.

Lack of awareness

The increase in HIV is against a backdrop of public ignorance and complacency when it comes to the disease.

A recent study by the UK charity Terrence Higgins Trust found that one in three young people wrongly believe there is now a cure for HIV.

It also found that many have misconceptions and do not understand how the disease is spread.

One in four believes HIV can be passed on by kissing and one in 10 think it can be caught from a toilet seat.

The ICM survey also revealed that nearly half of the British population think they know very little or not enough about HIV.

Officials at THT said the findings highlighted the need for urgent action to protect people from the disease.

"We have achieved so much in the fight against HIV and Aids," said Nick Partridge, its chief executive.

"However, the work is far from over - record numbers of people are being diagnosed with HIV and there are now more people living with the virus in the UK than ever before."


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