Page last updated at 11:52 GMT, Wednesday, 22 April 2009 12:52 UK

Rise in pregnant women with HIV

Pregnant woman
Precautions can protect babies from the HIV virus in pregnancy

The number of pregnant women with HIV has risen to an all-time high in Scotland, latest figures have shown.

Statistics from Health Protection Scotland found 27 women were identified as HIV positive last year, up from 22.

More than 100 people living in Scotland were diagnosed with the virus in the first three months of this year, taking the total number infected to 5,901.

The report also showed a significant rise in infections in Glasgow, with 50 of the 109 new cases in that region.

Since 2003 all pregnant women in Scotland have been offered a routine HIV test.

Precautions can be taken after early detection to protect the baby from the virus, and many babies have been born free from HIV as a result.

Of the 27 pregnant women diagnosed with HIV last year, around two-thirds were originally from overseas.

Infection rising

The Health Protection Scotland statistics showed Greater Glasgow and Clyde had the highest number of all new HIV cases, compared with 22 in the Lothian area, 11 from Tayside and 10 in the Grampian region.

A total of 43 are thought to have acquired the infection from outside Scotland.

The most common probable cause was heterosexual sex, accounting for 54 of the new cases.

It's always best to use condoms and, if you think you've put yourself at risk, go for an HIV test.
Catherine Murphy, Terrence Higgins Trust Scotland

The probable route of transmission in 23 cases was men who had sex with men, and three were attributed to injecting drugs.

Catherine Murphy, of the HIV and Aids charity the Terrence Higgins Trust Scotland, said: "Up until 2002, Edinburgh and the Lothians consistently saw higher numbers of new HIV diagnoses.

"However, in recent years Glasgow has seen a significant increase in people affected by HIV. During the first quarter of 2009, Glasgow had almost half of all new diagnoses and twice as many Lothian, the next worst affected region."

"HIV diagnoses continue to rise across the whole of Scotland, and a quarter of people with HIV don't know they have it, so - irrespective of where you live - it's always best to use condoms and, if you think you've put yourself at risk, go for an HIV test."

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