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Britain HIV Diagnoses Reaches High

January 25, 2001

LONDON (AP) _ The number of people in Britain diagnosed last year with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is expected to be the highest ever, public health officials said Thursday.

The Public Health Laboratory Service said 2,868 new cases of HIV were reported last year, a 7 percent increase on comparable figures for 1999. With some figures still to be collected, the total is expected to exceed the previous high of 3,222 cases in 1985, the first year testing was widely available.

For the second consecutive year, the number of new cases was greater among heterosexuals than among homosexuals, with 1,315 heterosexuals diagnosed compared to 1,096 cases among gay and bisexual men. The majority of the heterosexual cases were acquired in areas with high rates of the virus, such as sub-Saharan Africa, the service said.

Dr. Barry Evans, head of the service’s HIV division, said the increase in diagnoses was not entirely due to a surge of recent infections.

``Many of those being diagnosed are people who were infected some years ago but who are only now coming forward for testing,″ he said.

More than 20,000 people in Britain have been diagnosed as HIV positive, and health experts say about 10,000 others may be infected without knowing it.

``There have also been large increases in sexually transmitted infections such as gonorrhea which shows that unsafe sex is occurring and people are putting themselves at risk of acquiring HIV,″ Evans said.

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