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UK HIV & AIDS Statistics

UK HIV and AIDS Statistics Key Figures

Around 98,400 people were living with HIV in the UK at the end of 2012, of whom 22 percent were unaware of their infection.1

In 2012, there were 6,360 new diagnoses of HIV, contributing to a cumulative total of 128,805 cases reported by the end of 2012.2

As of the end of 2012, there have been 27,798 diagnoses of AIDS in the UK, and 21,117 people living with HIV have died (not necessarily of causes relating to HIV and AIDS).3

Trends in UK HIV and AIDS statistics

HIV AIDS diagnoses and deaths by year UK 1981-2012

Following the discovery of AIDS in the UK in the early 1980s, there was a steady increase in the number of people diagnosed with HIV. From 1987 to 1990 the cumulative number of reported HIV diagnoses almost doubled, from 8,888 to 15,570.

HIV/AIDS was first concentrated among three 'high-risk' groups - men who have sex with men (MSM), injecting drug users and people who had received blood products.

Between 1990 and 1998 the epidemic was fairly steady with between 2,000 and 3,000 new HIV diagnoses reported annually. From 1999 there was a steep increase in the number of annual HIV diagnoses, peaking in 2005 at 7,824. There has been a slight decline in subsequent years, but the number of new HIV diagnoses today is still far higher than the pre-2001 figure.

The introduction of combination antiretroviral treatment in the mid-1990s has resulted in a steep decline in the number of AIDS cases and deaths reported each year. In 1997, deaths among people living with HIV amounted to 748, compared to 1,481 the previous year. Since 1998 the annual number of people living with HIV who have died has remained more or less constant, usually between 400 and 600 each year.

UK HIV diagnoses by transmission route

Annual HIV diagnoses increased rapidly until 2004. Much of this increase is due to infections transmitted through heterosexual sex. In 1999, for the first time, heterosexual sex accounted for a larger proportion of diagnoses than sex between men. Since 2005, the number of people who acquired HIV through heterosexual contact has declined while new HIV diagnoses among MSM have continued to increase. The two transmission routes now have similar annual figures.

HIV diagnoses by transmission route UK 1981-2012.png

Heterosexual sex

Around half of the HIV diagnoses transmitted through heterosexual sex in 2012 were among people who acquired HIV in the UK; this has been increasing in recent years. Conversely, new HIV diagnoses acquired through heterosexual sex abroad are declining.4

Men who have sex with men

By the end of 2012, 56,284 MSM had been diagnosed with HIV in the UK.5 The number of new HIV diagnoses among this group has been steadily increasing since 2001 - peaking in 2007 at 2,829. It is likely this trend is due to an increase in HIV testing, although a rise in high risk sexual behaviour has also been suggested as a contributory factor.6 7

Injecting drug users

Injecting drug use has played a smaller part in the HIV epidemic in the UK than it has in many other high-income countries. During 2012, a reported 120 people diagnosed with HIV acquired it through this transmission route.8 Since the beginning of the HIV and AIDS epidemic in the UK, 5,704 HIV diagnoses have occurred as a result of injecting drug use. Those aged between 25-29 account for the largest share (1,410) of HIV diagnoses. This is closely followed by the 30-34 age group (1,360) and the 35-39 age group (929). Since records began, the largest proportion of HIV diagnoses have been among people in their twenties.9

Mother-to-child transmission of HIV

Surveillance of mother-to-child transmission of HIV (MTCT) relies on confidential voluntary reports from paediatricians and obstetricians. Overall, 2,316 children (aged 14 or under) diagnosed with HIV in the UK have been infected through mother-to-child transmission, with 76 of those diagnoses in 2012.10 Only 2% of people accessing HIV care in 2012 were infected by mother-to-child transmission.11 However, due to the widespread use of antiretroviral drugs to prevent mother-to-child transmission, this rate was still far lower than in many other countries.

Blood products

By the end of 2012, a reported 2,277 people had become infected with HIV through contaminated blood products - almost 80 percent were diagnosed before 1995. Blood safety guidelines were established in 1985 to ensure no more infections occurred through unsafe blood transfusions.12 Just 21 people who received a positive HIV diagnosis in 2012 were infected via blood products.13

UK HIV diagnoses by ethnicity

HIV diagnoses by ethnicity UK 1995-2012

As shown on the graph above, the number of annual HIV diagnoses among black Africans has declined quite significantly since 2004.

UK HIV diagnoses by gender

HIV diagnoses by gender UK 1981-2012

In the first stages of the UK epidemic there were few HIV diagnoses among women. Unlike in many parts of the world, such as sub-Saharan Africa, where there are more women living with HIV than men, HIV diagnoses in the UK have consistently been majority-male.

UK HIV diagnoses by age

UHIV diagnoses by age UK 1981-2012

Those aged between 35-49 accounted for the largest share (2,651) of new HIV diagnoses in 2012. This was followed by the 25-34 age group (1,976). Since records began, the largest proportion of HIV diagnoses have been among people between 25 and 34.14

In the period 2003-2012, new HIV diagnoses almost doubled among the over 50s.

Note that the diagnoses and deaths shown on the above charts are only those recorded from 1981, when the epidemic became known. The HPA has recorded some diagnoses prior to 1981, which are not released by year due to small numbers and issues of data quality. However, they are included in the totals mentioned in the text. Any slight inconsistencies in data for recent years are due to delays in reporting.    



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