Record number of HIV diagnoses alarms scientists

More cases of HIV transmission through gay sex were recorded in Britain in 1996 than in any other year, and the total number of HIV infections was the highest annual figure to date, according to the latest government statistics.The rise has renewed concern that some young gay and bisexual men may be ignoring the safer sex message, and no longer believe that HIV and Aids pose a threat to their lives.

Widespread publicity about new drugs that could eradicate the virus from the body in the short term may also have caused complacency among gays too young to have experienced the tragedies of the1980s. But, conversely, the new drugs may have encouraged testing.

The Public Health Laboratory Service says the 11 per cent rise in reported HIV transmissions through homosexual intercourse between 1995 and 1996 is "notable". In 1995, there were 1,474 cases reported, compared with 1,634 last year. The previous record figure was 1,627 in 1986. In 1996, the total number of HIV infections was 2,986. The PHLS warned that the latest figure might refer not to new transmissions, but to diagnoses. "People infected for some time may only now be coming forward. They may hear about the protease inhibitor drugs and combination therapies, and think they can improve their chances."

The Terrence Higgins Trust, which has continually promoted the safe sex message, said tar-geting younger men was impor- tant. Nick Partridge of THT said that in the UK only 60 to 65 per cent of gay men had been tested for HIV and few had routine tests. In the US, though, most men have regular tests.

The PHLS figures also show a continuing rise in the number of heterosexual transmissions of HIV in the UK. Janet Mortimer, a principal scientist at the Communicable Disease Surveillance Centre, told Positive Nation, a gay newsletter, that scientists were "depressed" by the latest figures. There have been a total of 28,447 reports of HIV infection in the UK since 1984, and 13,720 cases of Aids, of whom 9,678 died.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Kinapse: Consultant, Advisory Services, Kinapse Ltd

from £35,000 pa: Kinapse: You will take leadership for discrete workstreams an...

Recruitment Genius: Electrical Engineer / Panel Wireperson

£22000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Full time position for Nottingh...

Recruitment Genius: Technical Customer Service Advisor

£22000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the UK's leading boiler ...

Recruitment Genius: Sports Simulator / Home Cinema Installation Technician

£20000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This established Simulation Tec...

Day In a Page

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth: Would people co-operate to face down a global peril?

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth

Would people cooperate to face a global peril?
Just one day to find €1.6bn: Greece edges nearer euro exit

One day to find €1.6bn

Greece is edging inexorably towards an exit from the euro
New 'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could help surgeons and firefighters, say scientists

'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could become reality

Holographic projections would provide extra information on objects in a person's visual field in real time
Sugary drinks 'are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year'

Sugary drinks are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year

The drinks that should be eliminated from people's diets
Pride of Place: Historians map out untold LGBT histories of locations throughout UK

Historians map out untold LGBT histories

Public are being asked to help improve the map
Lionel, Patti, Burt and The Who rock Glasto

Lionel, Patti, Burt and The Who rock Glasto

This was the year of 24-carat Golden Oldies
Paris Fashion Week

Paris Fashion Week

Thom Browne's scarecrows offer a rare beacon in commercial offerings
A year of the caliphate:

Isis, a year of the caliphate

Who can defeat the so-called 'Islamic State' – and how?
Marks and Spencer: Can a new team of designers put the spark back into the high-street brand?

Marks and Spencer

Can a new team of designers put the spark back into the high-street brand?
'We haven't invaded France': Italy's Prime Minister 'reclaims' Europe's highest peak

'We haven't invaded France'

Italy's Prime Minister 'reclaims' Europe's highest peak
Isis in Kobani: Why we ignore the worst of the massacres

Why do we ignore the worst of the massacres?

The West’s determination not to offend its Sunni allies helps Isis and puts us all at risk, says Patrick Cockburn
7/7 bombings 10 years on: Four emergency workers who saved lives recall the shocking day that 52 people were killed

Remembering 7/7 ten years on

Four emergency workers recall their memories of that day – and reveal how it's affected them ever since
Humans: Are the scientists developing robots in danger of replicating the hit Channel 4 drama?

They’re here to help

We want robots to do our drudge work, and to look enough like us for comfort. But are the scientists developing artificial intelligence in danger of replicating the TV drama Humans?
Time to lay these myths about the Deep South to rest

Time to lay these myths about the Deep South to rest

'Heritage' is a loaded word in the Dixie, but the Charleston killings show how dangerous it is to cling to a deadly past, says Rupert Cornwell
What exactly does 'one' mean? Court of Appeal passes judgement on thorny mathematical issue

What exactly does 'one' mean?

Court of Appeal passes judgement on thorny mathematical issue