AIDS cases in Britain growing

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UKLONDON (Reuters) - The number of people in Britain living with HIV has grown to an estimated 63,500 adults as sufferers live longer and new infections continue to rise, according to a report on Wednesday.

That figure is an increase from 58,300 in 2004, the Health Protection Agency (HPA) report says, and includes both those who have been diagnosed and also around a third (20,100) who remain unaware of their infection.

The report called A Complex Picture is being launched ahead of World AIDS Day on December 1.

Dr Valerie Delpech, an HIV expert at the agency said: "We are seeing an ever increasing pool of people living with HIV and AIDS in the UK.

"This is due to people living longer with HIV due to advances in treatment, sustained levels of newly acquired infections in gay men, further diagnoses among heterosexuals who acquired their infection in Africa and cases being picked up earlier.

"The high level of new HIV cases being diagnosed continued in 2005 with 7450 cases recorded, including almost 2400 new cases in gay men," she added.

Three in every hundred homosexual men who attended a sexually transmitted infection clinic last year acquired their HIV infection during 2005, most probably within the UK, the report says.

The global HIV epidemic continues to affect Black and ethnic minority populations in the country and where ethnicity was reported, this group accounted for two thirds of all new cases reported in 2005.

© Reuters 2006