HIV increase is highest in country

HIV rates in the east of England have risen by 450 per cent in the last ten years - the highest increase in the country.Latest figures, released by the Health Protection Agency (HPA), show that 424 people in the region were diagnosed with the virus in 2007.

HIV rates in the east of England have risen by 450 per cent in the last ten years - the highest increase in the country.

Latest figures, released by the Health Protection Agency (HPA), show that 424 people in the region were diagnosed with the virus in 2007.

This compares to just 74 in 1997 - a rise of 473pc and the largest increase in the whole of the UK.

The east of England, made up of Suffolk, Essex, Norfolk, Cambridgeshire, Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire, had its highest number of HIV infections - 599 - diagnosed in 2004.

The following year, the number dropped to 536 and in 2006 it was at 538, the figures show.

Dr Mark Reacher, HPA consultant epidemiologist for the east of England, said: “Sex with a new or multiple partners is risky and although HIV treatment is now effective it is not a cure for this infection.

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“Prevention is far better than any treatment and our advice is that anyone entering into a new or casual sexual relationship should always use condoms.”

A spokeswoman for the East of England Strategic Health Authority (SHA), said: “In February this year an extra £14 million was allocated to SHAs to invest in ways of helping young people get access to sexual health advice and contraception.

“All pregnant women are offered a HIV test, and the east of England has a high level of uptake for screening.

“We also have the lowest rate for transmission of HIV from infected women to children at birth.”

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