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Last Updated: Monday, 26 November 2007, 01:49 GMT
Many young see HIV as 'shameful'
Image of men and a condom
The number of cases of HIV are rising in the UK
One in seven young people in Britain would not stay friends with someone who had HIV, a survey suggests.

Almost half of the 300 people aged 14 to 25 surveyed said they would want to keep it a secret if a relative had HIV.

The degree of stigma around the disease in Britain is similar to that in South Africa, which has the highest instances of HIV, the Red Cross study reveals.

Only 32% of Britons worry about getting the disease but a report last week showed cases are rising in the UK.

In South Africa, a fifth of young people said they would not stay friends with someone who was infected.

In Kyrgyzstan, where HIV is a growing problem, almost half of young people questioned said a friendship would end if their friend contracted HIV.

The survey was released by the British Red Cross to mark the launch of a new campaign to raise awareness of the disease.

'Demystify fears'

Alyson Lewis, HIV adviser at the charity, said: "The stigma and secrecy attached to HIV is having a direct impact on young people's ability worldwide to access information and talk openly about their fears and concerns about the spread of this devastating pandemic.

"Almost half of British young people interviewed would want to keep it a secret if a member of their family was living with HIV.

"Many young people view HIV as a shameful secret, and we need to ensure that we demystify these fears and help young people to be more aware of the risks and how to protect themselves."

The survey involved interviewing 300 people aged between 14 and 25 in each of Great Britain, Ethiopia, South Africa and Kyrgyzstan.

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