Fifty Percent Of All New HIV Infections In Heterosexual Men And Women

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The UK Health Agency just released a report finding that for the first in over a decade the number of new HIV infections in heterosexual people is higher than those in gay and bisexual men. According to The Independent,

“In the year leading to December 2021, 45 percent of all new diagnoses were in gay and bisexual men, while 50 percent were in heterosexual men or women.”

The release of the report coincides with the UK’s annual National HIV Testing Week which began on February 10th. The week “aims to promote regular testing and reduce late diagnoses.” The detailed report offers both hopeful news in the war against HIV and AIDS, and also some worrisome news.

The reason for these new statistics? One could be the state the world has been in since March 2020. The COVID-19 pandemic greatly impacted every aspect of life around the world. With people taking covid tests every week or possibly more often, the amount of people getting tested for HIV dropped sharply. According to The Independent, 

“There was a 33 percent drop in testing among heterosexual people, compared to a 7 percent decrease in gay and bisexual men. In 2020, 55 percent and 51 percent of heterosexual men and women, respectively, were diagnosed at a late stage compared to 29 percent among gay and bisexual men.”

In an op-ed article for The Guardian, Ian Green explains that, “it’s time to change the way we combat the virus.” Green, who has been HIV+ for over 25 years says,  “We need to test more people more often and in more places – regardless of gender, sexuality, ethnicity or anything else.” Much like the free covid tests offered, why shouldn’t HIV tests be offered free to everyone? Green feels that,

“Offering an HIV test to everyone normalizes it and reduces the stigma: you’re not being singled out because of your sexuality or ethnicity. Free postal HIV tests should also be available across the country all year round.”

Reducing the stigma associated with HIV needs to reach the heterosexual community, who might not feel that they are in danger of contracting the virus. The Terrence Higgins Trust is the UK’s leading HIV and sexual health charity. Taku Mukiwa, head of health programs at Terrence Higgins Trust commented:

“Heterosexuals also saw a far steeper drop in testing for HIV during COVID-19 lockdown and are far more likely to be diagnosed late. That’s why we need to see more heterosexuals getting tested to avoid anyone living with undiagnosed HIV for a long time. This is important for their own health as well as for efforts to stop HIV being passed on as the vast majority of people get HIV from someone who is unaware they have it.” 

Green, who is the chief executive of The Terrence Higgins Trust, also thinks erasing the stigma is the key to winning the war against this disease,

“But public perceptions haven’t shifted in line with medical progress. And this is a huge problem – not just because it affects the lives of those of us living with HIV who have to endure the stigma, but because it makes so many too scared to test. Put simply: we won’t end new HIV cases without also ending the stigma. And not ending new HIV cases when we have the tools available is completely unacceptable.”


Sources: The Guardian, The Independent

1 thought on “Fifty Percent Of All New HIV Infections In Heterosexual Men And Women”

  1. Y’all probably should have stated in the title that these stats pertain to a population in the UK and not the USA. True, while it’s concerning to see these kinds of increases for HIV anywhere around the globe, given your likely readers it would be useful information to have up front. I’m just saying…

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