New HIV infection in UK in men who have sex with men exceeds heterosexual transmission after many years

Annual report of HIV infections in the United Kingdom in 2001 published by Health Protection Agency (HPA) show that for the first time in  many years newly diagnosed infections were higher in men who have sex with men (MSM) than transmission through heterosexual intercourse.

By the end of 2011, there were an estimated 96,000 (95% credible interval 90,800 – 102,500) people were living with HIV in the UK. Approximately one quarter (22,600, 24% [19%- 28%]) of these were undiagnosed and unaware of their infection. Fig 1

Fig 1. People infected with HIV at the end of 2011


This is an increase from the 91,500 people estimated to have been living with HIV by the end of 2010. The estimated prevalence of HIV in 2011 was 1.5 per 1,000 (1.5-1.6) population of all ages, 2.1 per 1,000 (1.9 – 2.3) men and 1.0 per 1,000 (1.0 – 1.1) women.

The rise in new diagnosis in MSM (Fig 2) is particularly worrying as nearly half the patients (47%) are diagnosed late when their immune system is already compromised increasing the chance of a fatal outcome within one year of diagnosis ten fold. These deaths are totally avoidable with the use of anti-viral therapy early in the infection.


Fig 2. New cases of HIV by exposure category


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