30,000 adults in UK have Aids virus

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Experts today disclosed that 30,000 adults in the UK were infected with HIV - on the day that a major international conference on Aids was opening in South Africa.

Experts today disclosed that 30,000 adults in the UK were infected with HIV - on the day that a major international conference on Aids was opening in South Africa.

The Public Health Laboratory Service released figures for the UK population living with HIV to coincide with the event.

According to recent estimate there were about 30,000 infected adults in the UK, equivalent to about one in 1,000 of all people aged 15 to 49.

The number of people living with diagnosed HIV infection was increasing by about 10 per cent a year.

Dr Angus Nicoll, acting director of the PHLS Communicable Disease Surveillance Centre in London, said the figure was worrying.

He said the one in 1,000 figure is much lower than some countries in sub-Saharan Africa where the epidemic is extremely severe - prevalence in the same age group having reached one in five or higher - but there was no cause for complacency in the UK.

He pointed out that although HIV was entirely preventable, new infections continued to occur. New figures were still coming in, but 1999 looked set to have a record number of UK HIV diagnoses.

Dr Barry Evans, head of the PHLS HIV division, will highlight this and other aspects of the UK situation at the conference, which ends on July 14.

He pointed out that sharing of needles by injecting drug users had increased by more than 30 per cent in the UK since 1997.

Increasing numbers of other sexually transmitted infections suggested that fewer people were now practising safe sex.

About 10,000 scientists, doctors, charity representatives, ministers and officials are expected to attend the 13th International Aids Conference in Durban.

The African continent was chosen for the event to highlight the fact that 90 per cent of the world's population affected by the Aids virus live in developing countries.

Conference chairman Professor Hoosen Coovadia said: "Over four million South Africans are living with HIV/Aids, and there are more than 1,700 new infections occurring daily in this country.

"The Durban conference is a unique opportunity to focus our energies and attention where the impact and effects of the epidemic are being felt most by individuals, families, communities and countries."

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