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HIV Infections on the Rise

The Overall Rise of HIV Infections in the UK

Did you know that there are nearly 110,000 people in the United Kingdom who are infected with HIV? This figure was recently released by Public Health England in preparation for the National HIV Testing Week. Sexually active men and women are constantly being reminded of the importance of testing for HIV and are being urged to get tested to ensure early diagnosis. This is simply due to the fact that early diagnosis enables better treatment outcomes and reduces the risk of further transmission. Additional figures from Public Health England do indicate that overall, more people are being diagnosed earlier, resulting in a decrease of the percentage of people diagnosed with a late stage of HIV. 

HIV Diagnosis in Gay and Bisexual Men in the UK

The figures further revealed that there is a rise in the percentage of gay and bisexual men living with HIV. For example, one in every eight sexually active men is now infected with HIV. Below are a few reasons for HIV infections on the rise in gay and bisexual men:

The partners of gay and bisexual men are more likely to have and transmit HIV. This is because anal sex is more likely to spread HIV than vagina sex. As gay and bisexual men actively partake in anal sex, the disease is more likely to spread faster in gay and bisexual men. 

In addition, young gay and bisexual men are more likely to engage in sexual practices that are more risky. Research shows that most gay and bisexual men do not prefer to practice safe sex.

With needles being the riskiest way to transmit HIV outside of sex, gay and bisexual men are at greater risk as they are also more likely to use drugs.

Gay and bisexual men are less likely to get tested because of the high levels of stigma and discrimination experienced by people with HIV, especially those who are gay or bisexual.

Will changing the educational approach help?

It is without a doubt that people are more knowledgeable about the virus and that they are of the risks of unprotected sex; however, the infection is still increasing. This is simply because still choose to partake in risky sexual activities. What do public health authorities, activists and educators need to do to prevent the rise of HIV infections? Do they need to change the educational approach and if they do, how should it be change? They definitely need to find better ways of changing people’s attitude towards unprotected sex. In addition, they need to find better ways of imprinting the message about the risks and consequences of HIV transmission. Furthermore, more emphasis should be placed on the gay and bisexual community, ensuring that they truly understand the risks and consequences of HIV transmission through gay/bisexual sexual activities. With the next World AIDS Day just around the corner on December 1st 2014, let’s hope that the UK population become wiser, smarter and more careful when it comes to HIV and its transmission. People need to finally start accepting that it can happen to them as well and if they are having unprotected sex with more than one partners, sooner or later it will happen to them. If they are not willing to accept this, it will be difficult for them to be reached. 

Tips for Getting Tested

It remains a fact that you are at risk of transmitting HIV to others if you are unaware of your status. Knowing your HIV status is therefore the best and most effective way of preventing the infection from further spreading. 

You should consider getting a GSTT Full STI Screen, if you are:

A man who have sex with one or more men, have an HIV and STI screen at least once per year. If you have had unprotected sex with a new partner or a casual partner, make sure that you get tested after three months.

A man or woman who are saving unprotected sex, especially with new or casual partners.

Remember that you should always use a condom consistently and correctly until both you and your partner or partners have had a full sexual health screening and your status is confirmed. 

Please note that it is always unsafe to have unprotected sex with partners of the same HIV status, whether it is positive or negative.

If both you are your partner (s) are HIV positive, you can be at risk of acquiring hepatitis and other sexually transmitted diseases.

 

If both you and your partner (s) are both HIV negative, there is a high risk of acquiring HIV as well as other sexually transmitted diseases. 

 

 

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