United Kingdom: New Warning Over the Fast-Growing HIV Threat
July 29, 2004
HIV/AIDS is now "the fastest growing serious health condition in England," Sir Liam Donaldson, the United Kingdom's chief medical officer, said Wednesday in his annual report. While most people infected have been gay men, the fastest growth is now in people heterosexually infected in Africa, and the risk threatens ever more heterosexuals inside the United Kingdom, he said.
There were 5,615 infections in 2002, the last year for which figures are complete. An estimated 7,000 may have been infected in 2003 -- the highest number ever.
An estimated 43,500 people in England had HIV in 2002, but one-third did not know it. Donaldson emphasized the problems of inadequate testing: People who do not know they are infected may unknowingly spread HIV to others or die because their condition is not discovered in time.
The report noted about 59 percent of men who have sex with men visiting a genitourinary clinic left with their HIV status undiagnosed. In London, a quarter of HIV-pregnant women are not tested, and 13 percent are not tested in the rest of England. This lack of testing "has serious implications for the HIV/AIDS epidemic in England. Urgent improvements need to be made," said the report.
The report also said waiting times at genitourinary clinics are worrying. In a Health Protection Agency pilot study of such clinics, 28 percent of emergencies were not seen within 48 hours and 8 percent waited longer than two weeks. Of those making routine appointments, only 18 percent were seen within 48 hours while 41 percent waited over two weeks.
The Guardian (London)
07.29.2004; Sarah Boseley
This article was provided by U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update. Visit the CDC's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.