Number of New HIV Cases in U.K. Associated With Heterosexual Sex Increased Between 1999, 2003, Study Says
The number of newly diagnosed HIV cases likely resulting from heterosexual sex in England, Wales and Northern Ireland more than doubled between 1999 and 2003, according to a study conducted by the British Health Protection Agency published in the March 11 online edition of BMJ, BBC News reports. However, the majority of people who contracted HIV through heterosexual sex contracted the virus outside of the United Kingdom, according to the study. HPA analyzed confidential records of HIV infection in England, Wales and Northern Ireland to determine "probable" methods of viral transmission, according to BBC News (BBC News, 3/11). According to HPA, about 21,000 of the 56,308 adults diagnosed with HIV in England, Wales and Northern Ireland between 1985 and 2003 likely were infected through heterosexual sex, according to Reuters (Reuters, 3/10). In 1999, there were 144 new HIV diagnoses among people likely to have been infected through heterosexual sex, compared with 315 in 2003 (Laurance, Independent, 3/11). Among all new HIV diagnoses in 2003, 75% were among women, according to the researchers. However, the majority of new HIV infections in the United Kingdom occur among men who have sex with men, according to Reuters. Approximately 62% of newly diagnosed HIV-positive people had a sexual partner who contracted HIV outside the United Kingdom. Of those who contracted HIV outside England, Wales and Northern Ireland, approximately 80% likely contracted the virus in Africa, the study says. HPA estimates that there are approximately 53,000 people living with HIV/AIDS in the United Kingdom. HPA researchers said that the number of people being infected through heterosexual sex likely will continue to rise, particularly among ethnic minorities, according to Reuters (Reuters, 3/10).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.