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Warning over Aids complacency
aids slab
Effect of Aids campaigns `has worn off'
People wrongly think a cure has been found for Aids and teenagers think HIV is not relevant to them, new research shows.

The publication of two studies to mark World Aids Day paints a depressing picture for campaigners trying to raise awareness of the condition.

They say that the public has misunderstood the power of new drug treatments, which can help control HIV and Aids but are not a cure, and that the younger generation has failed to grasp the seriousness of the threat to their health.

A report from the National Aids Trust (NAT) - HIV at the Crossroads - warns of a "dangerous new phase" because of myths developing that there is no longer a need for safe sex.

And a separate study from the Health Education Authority (HEA) points to a perception among 16 to 18-year-olds that HIV and Aids is a problem for older people.


There is no cure for HIV, there is no vaccine for HIV and there isn't likely to be one for a long time

Michael Carter, Terrence Higgins Trust
The NAT report called for research to discover people's understanding of combination therapy introduced in 1996. Without urgent action, there was a risk that "many of the advances made to control HIV over the past 15 years are in danger of slipping away".

Meanwhile, the HEA study found that most teenagers were unlikely to use condoms and that friends and magazines were their main source of sex education. They were too young to remember the mass media Aids campaigns of the 1980s.

Risks

Rodney Amis, of the HEA, said: "HIV and Aids have not gone away, and we clearly need to increase our efforts to inform young people about the risks. The challenge is to make these issues relevant to the lives of people in this age group."

Keith Winestein of NAT added: "The really worrying thing is that young people know the facts about HIV but choose not to use condoms."

Michael Carter, of the Terrence Higgins Trust, told the BBC that the public must not lose sight of the threat posed by Aids. "There is no cure for HIV, there is no vaccine for HIV and there isn't likely to be one for a long time," he said.

December 1 1999 is the 12th World Aids Day aimed at raising awareness of the condition world-wide. It is part of the World Aids Campaign, run by the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/Aids.

It is estimated that 2.5m people died of Aids last year and that 33m are living with Aids or HIV. There are thought to be about 30,000 sufferers in the UK - one-third of these do not know they have the disease.

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"Some cultural attitudes have to change"

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See also:

01 Dec 99 | Health
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