Health alert over record numbers of patients diagnosed with HIV

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A RECORD number of people are living with HIV, new figures show today.

The Health Protection Agency (HPA) said there were about 96,000 people who have the virus.

More than 3,800 have been diagnosed with the condition in Yorkshire including 368 new patients in 2011. There were 6,280 new cases nationwide.

But health officials are warning a quarter of people who have the human immunodeficiency virus are not aware they have been infected which is a key factor driving the continuing epidemic.

A third of new cases in the region were tested after the point treatment should have begun.

Half of new cases in Yorkshire acquired the infection through heterosexual sex. The HPA said one in 20 men who have sex with men in the UK now has HIV but the figure soars to nearly one in 12 in London.

Jane Morel, regional manager at the Terrence Higgins Trust, said: “Thirty years on from the start of the epidemic, public understanding of HIV has dropped to a worrying level. As a result, we are starting to see a significant increase in the number of heterosexuals contracting the virus in the UK.”

Suzanna Mathew, consultant in communicable disease control and sexual health lead for HPA in the region, said: “These figures are a reminder how vital safe sex programmes remain, promoting HIV testing and condom use, to tackle the high rates of transmission, late diagnosis and undiagnosed HIV still seen in the UK.”