More than 40,000 people in London are living with HIV, a large number of whom don’t even know it yet.
Out of some 40,250 people, both diagnosed and undiagnosed, 4,500 are believed to be infected but are unaware of their condition.
That’s according to a new report from Public Health England (PHE) that revealed that almost half of all new diagnoses last year were in the capital.
The findings come on World Aids Day, where communities come together to raise awareness about the virus.
Around 6,000 people were diagnosed in the UK last year, with some 90,000 living with the virus and accessing care, according to Public Health England.
Four in 10 diagnoses are ‘late’, meaning it’s already started damaging the immune system.
According to leading sexual health charity the Terrence Higgins Trust, this is because many of the ‘inaccurate myths from the 1980s are still deeply entrenched in society’.
Chief executive Ian Green said: ‘We’ve come a long way since the Aids crisis first emerged, when the nation was gripped by panic and fear.
‘But it’s not over. Misunderstanding of the virus can fuel stigma and cause immense distress for people coming to terms with an HIV diagnosis.’
A YouGov study, revealed today, found that one in 10 people believe the virus can be transmitted through sharing scissors at the hairdresser.
- HIV is a virus that attacks the immune system and weakens your ability to fight infections and disease.
- It stands for human immunodeficiency virus.
- It is most commonly caught by having sex without a condom.
- It can also be passed on by sharing infected needles.
- There is no cure but there are treatments to enable most people to live a long and healthy life.
- Aids is the final stage of HIV, when your body can no longer fight life-threatening infections.
While almost one-third of Britons think you can catch HIV by sharing a toothbrush with someone who is infected.
The study, which surveyed 2,030 adults, also found that just over half (58%) of Britons believe people with HIV can live into old age.
And less than one-third (29%) know that those on effective treatment could have children without passing the virus on.
To mark World Aids Day, the Terrence Higgins Trust has launched a campaign, backed by actor Stephen Fry, to encourage people to wear red ribbons to raise awareness.
Fry said: ‘We saw our friends, lovers and families die and a generation of friends were lost and bright, beautiful lights were snuffed out before their time.
‘As a community, we are still recovering from that awful time, but World Aids Day gives us all a chance to reflect and come together to celebrate the real progress that has been made.’
‘I wear my red ribbon as a way of remembering all those we lost. We must never forget, and never give up the fight against HIV.’
If you want to test yourself at home, you can order your kit at www.freetesting.hiv.
To find out more information about World Aids Day, visit www.tht.org.uk/worldaidsday.