Public Health England report that 6000 people were newly diagnosed with HIV in the United Kingdom in 2013. The overall figure is lower than that seen a decade ago, mainly due to fewer diagnoses among heterosexual men and women born in high-prevalence African countries. Unfortunately, among gay men, the number of diagnoses is as high as ever with 3250 new cases reported in 2013.
It is estimated that there are now almost 110000 people living with HIV in the country and around 26000 of these are unaware of their status.
The good news is that the UK is meeting 2 out of the 3 targets set by UNAIDS. (The Joint United Nations Program on HIV and Aids). These are for 90% of all people living with HIV to know their status, for 90% of those to be on treatment and for 90% of those to have an undetectable viral load. According to UNAIDS if these figures could be achieved by 2020, the global AIDS epidemic would be over by 2030.
The UK is currently providing treatment for 90% of HIV-positive individuals and of those on treatment 90% are undetectable, so these targets have been met. This is a major achievement and shows how far the UK has come in treating this disease.
Unfortunately, we are still lagging behind when it comes to people knowing their status. Only 76% of people living with HIV in the UK know their status. When broken down by race we fare even worse with only 62% of African heterosexual men and 69% of African heterosexual women knowing their status.
There is clearly room for improvement and more should be done to encourage people to get tested. We can now treat HIV and keep symptoms at bay and most people on HIV treatment can live a normal lifespan. The key is getting all people to test.
Next week is National HIV test week, so why not support it and get tested? Knowing your status can save your life and those of your partners.