The UK has had her share of the global wave of HIV epidemic. However, with intensive healthcare management and strategies, the story has virtually become a thing of the past.
There are about 101,200 persons living with HIV in the United Kingdom. A whopping 89,400 of them live in England. Compared with the HIV statistics in the United States, the HIV epidemic in the UK is small. Be that as it may, the prevalence of HIV is more among men who have sex with men and black folks.
One of the challenges facing the UK is that of late diagnosis of HIV considering that 443 people died in 2016 from AIDS-related illnesses. The introduction of free and effective antiretroviral therapy for HIV in the nation since 1996 has changed HIV from a life-threatening infection to a lifelong health condition that can be well-managed; with early diagnosis, people living with HIV can live into old age.
Not only do antiretroviral drugs keep a person living with HIV from an early death, it has also been discovered that using the drugs resulted in the reduction of the viral load of HIV in the body and consequently has made transmission from one person to another to be reduced as well.
Diagnosis of the infection starts with testing. The test for HIV is free and the result can be out in a matter of minutes. The test can be done in sexual health clinics or can be performed at home with an HIV home testing kit.
According to a report published by Public Health England in 2015 (the latest comprehensive report on HIV), 69% of 101,200 persons living with HIV were men, 31% of the number were women. Gay and bisexual men made up a good number of men living with HIV in 2015. Ou of 7 gay and bisexual men living with HIV, 1 lived in London.
In the same 2015, about 13,000 persons living with HIV in the UK were unaware of their HIV status. 12% of the number were gay and bisexual men; 16% were heterosexual men and 23% were heterosexual women.
The Rampant HIV Case in the UK
In 2015, 6,095 persons were newly diagnosed with HIV. About 2,800 of them were gay and bisexual men living in England. Half of the new cases registered in London. Majority of the persons diagnosed with HIV in 2015 were aged between 25 and 49. The increase in the prevalence of HIV in London can be attributed to the rise in the number of gay and bisexual men with HIV since 2006.
Over the years, the number of new cases among heterosexuals has gone down by almost half, from 4,340 in 2006 to 2,369 in 2015. Of all new diagnoses among heterosexuals in the same year, black Africans made up 47% of them.
People who inject drugs constituted 3% of new HIV cases in the UK, a significant increase from previous records. It could be as a result of an outbreak of the infection among people who inject drugs in 2015 in Glasgow.
39% of adults diagnosed with HIV were already at the last stage of the infection, with the highest number seen among heterosexual men and women, particularly black Africans. The lowest proportion of late diagnosis of HIV was found among gay and bisexual men. Across all groups exposed to HIV in the UK, the part of late diagnosis reduced significantly from 56% to 39% in 2015.
There is a decline in the number of AIDS cases and deaths since 2006 in the United Kingdom. Men died of AIDS-related illnesses more than women with people who injected drugs having the highest rate of death.
The UK government has improved fantastically on HIV care. There is a steady increase in the number of HIV patients seen for care. A great number of adults kept coming back for HIV care in 2015.
In 2015 alone, 96% of people who attended for care were receiving treatment. With better treatment, improved quality of life and satisfactory health care, the psychological burden of HIV has been considerably lifted from patients in the United Kingdom.
Improvements in treatment have conspicuously reduced the risk of transmission of the disease. Nonetheless, among HIV patients, there is increased unemployment and more financial challenges. Reports of stigmatization and discrimination exist as a result of their HIV status.
No one should be stigmatized or discriminated against over their HIV status. The problem is HIV and not the human being having the infection. Get tested today, and encourage someone to do same too.