A fifth of people with HIV are unaware they are infected, report saysBMJ 2013; 347 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.f7024 (Published 22 November 2013) Cite this as: BMJ 2013;347:f7024
All rapid responses
Thank you for your recent news article regarding unawareness of status in anti-retroviral disease. Your article quotes Noel Gill, head of Public Health England’s HIV and STI department, regarding the importance of early diagnosis in HIV being fundamental to reducing new infections within the UK.
One could argue that “prevention is better than cure”, which is claimed by Du et al. this month.1 This cross-sectional study has identified 2 factors being important in increasing HIV rates across Philadelphia, USA:
1) Unsafe sexual behaviour (defined as, “inconsistent condom use, sex under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or exchange of sex for money”)
2) Nondisclosure of HIV infection status to sexual partner
The recent publication from Public Health England, HIV in the United Kingdom: 2013 Report,2 does thankfully comment on preventative measures, for example consistent and correct use of condoms, reducing the number of sexual partners and avoiding overlapping sexual encounters. According to the publication, 81% of HIV deaths in England and Wales have been attributed to late diagnosis, over the last 10 years. This fact is likely undisputed, however surely our efforts in succeeding against HIV should be to prevent the cause, and endeavour to reduce the possibility of transmission.
I personally, do not remember my own sexual health teaching at school actually covering HIV/AIDS, albeit 14-15 years ago. If I don’t remember being educated on the topic, how can a member of my generation be fully akin with the risks of dangerous sexual practice, in particular HIV? More resources need to be invested in tackling the initial problem, as well as trying to attain early diagnosis in the unlucky ones who have gone past this point of no-return.
1 Du, P et al. (2013). HIV Transmission Risk Behaviors Among People Living With HIV/AIDS: The Need to Integrate HIV Prevention Interventions and Public Health Strategies Into HIV Care. Journal of Public Health Management and Practice. Epub, awaiting print.
2 Public Health England. (2013). HIV in the United Kingdom: 2013 Report. Available: http://www.hpa.org.uk/webc/HPAwebFile/HPAweb_C/1317140300680. Last accessed 22nd Dec 2013.
Competing interests: No competing interests