Almost one in every 100 people aged 15 to 59 in Brighton and Hove is HIV positive, new figures suggest.
A report published by the Health Protection Agency today gives the city a diagnosed HIV prevalence rate of 7.6 per 1,000 people in this age group.
It says 1,387 people out of an estimated population of 182,700 are receiving treatment – but experts estimate that hundreds more are unaware that they are carrying the virus. The city has the highest prevalence of people with HIV outside of London.
It is recommended that any areas with a prevalence rate of more than two per 1,000 should work to increase the number of people being tested for HIV. Crawley, Lewes, Worthing and Eastbourne all have rates of between two and three per 1,000.
Stephen Nicholson, NHS Sussex’s lead commissioner for HIV and sexual health in Brighton and Hove, said the figures were a crude estimate.
He said HIV infection rates were not equally distributed across the city and the vast majority of cases were among the city’s gay population.
Safe sex programmes
He said: “We are doing a large amount of work to increase early diagnosis of HIV and increase access to HIV testing in community settings.”
Professor Jackie Cassell, an honorary consultant in health protection at the HPA in the south east, said: “These figures are a reminder how vital safe sex programmes remain.
“We must continue to promote HIV testing and condom use, in order to tackle the high rates of transmission, late diagnosis and undiagnosed HIV still seen in the UK.
“The good news is that with the excellent services and treatments available nowadays, if diagnosed and treated early someone with HIV can look forward to a normal lifespan, as well as protecting their sexual partners from infection.
“That’s why it is vitally important that anyone who has been at risk gets an HIV test, and that those in higher risk groups get tested regularly.”
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