Number of Newly Reported HIV Infections in Britain Up 20% in 2003, Report Says
The number of newly reported HIV cases in Britain increased 20% in 2003 compared with the previous year, stemming largely from unprotected sex, according to the British Health Protection Agency, Reuters reports. The number of new HIV infections in Britain are expected to increase to more than 7,000 in 2003 -- the highest total ever recorded -- and the number of cases among men who have sex with men are expected to increase to more than 2,000 when data analysis is complete. According to HPA, the number of HIV cases among heterosexuals rose 27% last year. Although approximately 80% of HIV-positive heterosexuals were infected outside of Britain, HPA reported that the number of infections occurring in Britain also has increased (Reuters, 2/12). There are approximately 49,500 HIV-positive people in Britain, about 33% of whom are unaware that they are infected, according to London's Guardian. Dr. Barry Evans, consultant epidemiologist in HIV and sexually transmitted diseases for HPA, said that "the rising trend in new diagnoses is liable to only get worse before it gets better" (Boseley, Guardian, 2/13). Evans added, "HIV is an infection that is here to stay." He said that increases in unsafe sex are "the main driving force behind this epidemic." HPA reported that the increase in other STDs is also leading to more HIV cases, according to Reuters. Nick Partridge, CEO of the Terrence Higgins Trust, said that the British government should make sexual health a national priority, adding, "Modernizing sexual health services to make it easier for people to test for HIV and other [STDs] would be a major step forward in helping to tackle this crisis" (Reuters, 2/12).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.