Suffolk: 590 new cases of HIV in East of England, according to report

Alan Murray Alan Murray

Lauren Everitt Health Correspondent lauren.everitt@archant.co.uk
Tuesday, March 25, 2014
12:40 PM

The East of England had the highest number of new HIV cases outside of London, according to new figures.

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A report published by Public Health England revealed 330 people in Suffolk were receiving care for HIV in 2012 while the number of new diagnoses among heterosexuals was highest in London with 1,020, followed by the East of England and Midlands regions with 590 diagnoses.

Suffolk County Council’s public health team is calling on people to understand the risks involved with contracting HIV, and to remember that it can affect everyone.

Alan Murray, cabinet member for health and adult care, said: “Over a period of several years, we have seen many myths and stigmas emerge about HIV and the different ways in which it can be contracted. It is not something that is limited to one or more groups, but can be a potential risk to everyone.

“Although advances in medicine now mean that HIV is treatable, it can severely limit the quality of people’s life. Crucially, early diagnosis can make a very big difference. That’s why we’re urging people to get checked for the virus as early as possible if they have any cause for concern, and to make responsible choices by using contraception with any new partners.”

The most common way of contracting HIV is through unprotected sexual intercourse, however many might be unaware of the risks of contracting a sexually transmitted disease or HIV from their previous or current sexual partners.

David Graham, acting service manager for Terrence Higgins Trust in Suffolk, said: “HIV can affect anyone in this country, so it’s vital that people make themselves aware of the risks. Over recent years, we have seen more and more people being diagnosed with HIV later in life.

“Many of these are diagnosed at a point when the virus has already started to damage their immune system. If you have had unprotected sex with a new or casual partner, take a test.

“It takes minutes to get a result, and if you are positive, it’s the single most effective way to protect your health and the health of your loved ones.”

Anyone wanting to take an HIV test should call the Terrence Higgins Trust on 01473 393101 or Suffolk Sexual Health on 0300 123 3650.

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