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Drive to diagnose HIV in Sussex to cut infection rate
HIV rates in Sussex could be slashed within in a decade.
Brighton and Hove has the highest number of people living with the illness outside of London.
Thirty years ago today Terry Higgins, the first person in the UK to be publicly identified as dying after developing AIDS, passed away.
Now the Terrence Higgins Trust has called for the number of people newly infected with HIV over the next ten years to be reduced.
It has outlined four ways of doing this, including reducing stigma of the illness.
In Brighton and Hove, seven out of every 1,000 people are living with the illness. About 1,500 people in the city have been diagnosed with HIV or AIDS and it is believed a further 500 have the illness but have not been diagnosed. Approximately 5% of new cases of HIV or AIDS are diagnosed a year. Across the south-east coast an estimated 5,800 people are living with HIV. In 2010 there were 385 new diagnoses of HIV – a 61% increase from 2001.
The Terrence Higgins Trust wants to encourage more people to get tested regularly for both for HIV and STIs. The trust believes this will help halt the spread of the epidemic.
It also wants to promote safer sex and condom use and ensure every diagnosis is treated in a timely fashion.
Modern antiretroviral drugs are so effective that someone on treatment is far less infectious than someone who is not.
The group also hopes to expand HIV testing services to reduce numbers.
Sue Peters, regional manager for the Terrence Higgins Trust, said: “Terry’s death 30 years ago inspired our fight to improve the nation’s sexual health. While there’s still no cure or vaccine for HIV, that doesn’t mean we have to accept its continuing march.
“Scientific advances over the last three decades, coupled with the strength of our health service, have put the UK in pole position for preventing the spread of HIV.
“It isn’t a complicated solution, but it does require renewed commitment from all of us to make it work.”
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