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New awareness campaign needed for HIV

1st September 2011

A committee of peers has warned that a new awareness campaign is needed to help stop the spread of HIV/Aids in the UK.

hiv

The House of Lords committee described current efforts as woefully inadequate in a report which found that the number of people in the UK being treated for the illness trebled in the past decade.

With figures suggesting that almost 100,000 people will have HIV by 2012, it says better testing must become a priority and suggests relaxing the laws on home-testing kits.

Antiretroviral drugs mean that few people are dying, though this is putting increased pressure on the NHS and the cost of managing the condition has gone from £500m in 2006-07 to £760m in 2009-10.

The Lords report stressed: “This is not a case for cutting back on treatment, it is a case for investing in prevention.”

It added: “HIV testing should be routinely offered and recommended on an opt-out basis to newly registering patients in general practice.”

They want a national campaign to raise awareness of HIV and Aids in the same way as the Don’t Die of Ignorance campaign in the 1980s.

The Terrence Higgins Trust’s deputy chief executive, Paul Ward, said the charity believed that a prevention approach is crucial with one which properly involved communities, businesses, charities, individuals and the state.

The Department of Health said the safe sex message is still vital.

A spokesman added: “We need to reduce undiagnosed HIV so testing in a variety health care settings is important - especially in high prevalence areas.”

 

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