HIV rates on the rise in eastern region

HIV rates in the east of England have seen a seven fold increase in the last 10 years - the highest in the country, latest figures reveal.

Craig Robinson

HIV rates in the east of England have seen a seven fold increase in the last 10 years - the highest in the country, latest figures reveal.

According to the Health Protection Agency (HPA) the region has seen a 573% rise in the number of people being treated for the disease since 1998.

The figures, which were released yesterday, show that 520 people in the east of England were newly diagnosed with HIV last year.


You may also want to watch:


It brings the overall number of individuals now being treated for the disease up to 3,693 - compared to 549 in 1998.

It is not yet known how many of these people are living in Suffolk or Essex but health bosses said the rise was down to better screening and longer life expectancy.

Most Read

An NHS East of England spokeswoman said: “Better access to screening services, and therefore more people being screened, is partly accountable for the rise in people being diagnosed with this disease. The east of England also has the highest level of uptake for pregnant women being screened for HIV.

“The NHS is available to offer support and advice to anyone who thinks they may be at risk of contracting HIV or other sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Anyone who thinks they may be at risk of contracting an STI should seek advice and get tested.

“We are now much better at helping people to live with HIV through new treatments but there is no cure for this infection. HIV is preventable by practising safe sex and using a condom.”

Other strategic health authorities to see a large rise were the East Midlands (six-fold from 406 in 1998 to 2,412 in 2007) and South Central - which covers Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire, Hampshire and the Isle of Wight (just under a six-fold increase from 475 to 2,776).

In 2007, an estimated 77,400 people were living with HIV in the UK, up from 73,000 (6%) in the previous year.

Dr Valerie Delpech, head of HIV surveillance at the HPA's Centre for Infections, said it was vital people were diagnosed early to reduce transmission.

“Late diagnosis also has a major impact on disease and life expectancy and it is vital that people are diagnosed early,” she said. “Access to testing must be made easier. We need to improve availability of HIV testing in a number of healthcare settings, including general practice, to improve diagnosis of this infection.

“Without this we will not see the reduction in transmission that we need to see, or a further fall in serious disease.”

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter