Many people with HIV 'do not know they are infected'

SUBSTANTIAL proportions of men and women infected with the Aids virus do not know they are carrying it, according to new estimates from scientists at the Public Health Laboratory Service.

They say that three out of four pregnant women in London found to be HIV positive through anonymous screening carried out in a national programme authorised by the Department of Health will not know that they are infected.

Similarly, among heterosexuals attending clinics for sexually transmitted diseases across the country the researchers estimate that 60 per cent of men and 53 per cent of women will be unaware of their HIV status - as will be 14 per cent of injecting drug addicts attending drug centres.

Even among homosexual and bisexual men, the group best educated about the risks and safer sex practices, the estimate for those who are HIV positive but do not know is 29 per cent.

In the latest Communicable Disease Report, the scientists warn health workers to be on their guard and to 'appreciate the extent of under-diagnosis in various clinical settings as these infected persons may not have had the opportunity to benefit from counselling and clinical monitoring'.

The estimates have been reached using statistical checks including Aids forecasting, back calculations and comparing known HIV cases from those who have volunteered to be tested with the prevalence of HIV found by the anonymous mass screening.

The scientists estimate that 45 out of 61 pregnant women with HIV will not know they were infected. Among heterosexuals attending clinics for sexually transmitted diseases, only 27 out of 67 men and 24 out of 51 women will be aware of their HIV status. Among homosexual or bisexual men, the estimate is that 549 out of 777 HIV cases will know.

Dr Noel Gill, chairman of the Public Health Laboratory Service Aids Centre, said that the latest figures reinforced the need for the controversial 'unlinked, anonymous' screening.

Between January 1990 and July 1992, blood samples from nearly 500,000 men, women and babies were screened for HIV in a variety of settings: ante-natal departments and blood spots from the new born; clinics for sexual diseases; centres for injecting drug users; and a much smaller number of general hospital patients.

The aim is to discover the true incidence of HIV infection in the community. The samples are unlinked and anonymous so they cannot be traced back to the individuals, who are not told of the results. But patients are told that their blood sample will be tested for HIV and they are offered a voluntary test and counselling.

Dr Gill said new Department of Health guidelines to health authorities already reflected their findings on the undiagnosed pregnant women. Authorities have been told to assess the local risk and encourage pregnant women attending ante-natal clinics to take the HIV test voluntarily.

'Knowing you are HIV positive does not necessarily mean you change your behaviour. The number of gay men, with HIV, for example who are newly diagnosed with rectal gonorrhoea is causing us concern.'

These cases indicate that the men are having unprotected sex with new partners.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Rocky road: Dwayne Johnson and Carla Gugino play an estranged husband and wife in 'San Andreas'
filmReview: In the face of all-round devastation, even Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson appears a little puny
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Bright lights, big city: Melrose Avenue in Los Angeles by dusk
books
Sport
Harry Kane makes Paul Scholes' Premier League team of the season
footballPaul Scholes on the best players, managers and goals of the season - and the biggest disappointments
News
i100
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

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer - Junior / Middleweight

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: One of the South East's fastest growing full s...

Guru Careers: Marketing Manager / Marketing Communications Manager

£35-40k (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Marketing Communicati...

Recruitment Genius: Commercial Engineer

£30000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Estimating, preparation of tech...

Recruitment Genius: IT Support Technician

£14000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: You will work as part of a smal...

Day In a Page

Fifa corruption: The 161-page dossier that exposes the organisation's dark heart

The 161-page dossier that exposes Fifa's dark heart

How did a group of corrupt officials turn football’s governing body into what was, in essence, a criminal enterprise? Chris Green and David Connett reveal all
Mediterranean migrant crisis: 'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves,' says Tripoli PM

Exclusive interview with Tripoli PM Khalifa al-Ghweil

'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves'
Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles: How the author foretold the Californian water crisis

Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles

How the author foretold the Californian water crisis
Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison as authorities crackdown on dissent in the arts

Art attack

Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison
Marc Jacobs is putting Cher in the limelight as the face of his latest campaign

Cher is the new face of Marc Jacobs

Alexander Fury explains why designers are turning to august stars to front their lines
Parents of six-year-old who beat leukaemia plan to climb Ben Nevis for cancer charity

'I'm climbing Ben Nevis for my daughter'

Karen Attwood's young daughter Yasmin beat cancer. Now her family is about to take on a new challenge - scaling Ben Nevis to help other children
10 best wedding gift ideas

It's that time of year again... 10 best wedding gift ideas

Forget that fancy toaster, we've gone off-list to find memorable gifts that will last a lifetime
Paul Scholes column: With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards

Paul Scholes column

With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards
Heysel disaster 30th anniversary: Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget fateful day in Belgium

Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget Heysel

Thirty years ago, 39 fans waiting to watch a European Cup final died as a result of a fatal cocktail of circumstances. Ian Herbert looks at how a club dealt with this tragedy
Amir Khan vs Chris Algieri: Khan’s audition for Floyd Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation, says Frank Warren

Khan’s audition for Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation

The Bolton fighter could be damned if he dazzles and damned if he doesn’t against Algieri, the man last seen being decked six times by Pacquiao, says Frank Warren
Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

Fifa corruption arrests

All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

How Stephen Mangan got his range

Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor