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Half of Britons 'wrongly think' you can get HIV from being bitten, spat at, or standing on a discarded needle

  • Misconceptions about HIV 'feed discrimination about the disease'
  • Only four out of 10 people knew 95% infections in UK due to unsafe sex
  • Highest number of gay men diagnosed with HIV in 2011


    Nearly half of people in the UK still don't understand how HIV is contracted, according to a charity.
    A survey of 12,000 people found that 46 per cent wrongly think you can get HIV from unusual means such as being spat at, the National Aids Trust said.
    'We often read stories in the media about people having to take HIV tests after being spat at, bit or stepping on a needle in a park, however the risk from these activities is either non-existent or incredibly low,' said charity chief executive Deborah Jack.
    95 per cent of HIV cases are contracted via unsafe sex
    Reality: 95 per cent of HIV cases are contracted via unsafe sex
    'Misinformation about how you can contract HIV leads to anxiety and feeds stigma and discrimination towards people living with the disease.
    'This stigma can be incredibly damaging. It is also an immense distraction from the overwhelming risk factor for HIV in the UK - unsafe sex.'
    The data revealed only four out of 10 people knew that 95 per cent of HIV infections in the UK are due to unprotected sex.


    Others ways of getting HIV are from sharing contaminated needles or between an infected mother and her baby at birth or via breastfeeding.
    The survey also discovered the public think HIV was a bigger problem in the 80s and 90s than in the present day. Half assumed the highest number of gay men diagnosed with HIV in a year was in the 80s or 90s - actually it was in 2011.
    New diagnoses of HIV remain high although they peaked in 2005
    The number of new HIV cases in the UK has soared over the past 10 years
    Ms Jack added: 'It is a common misconception that HIV is a problem of the past. In fact the number of people living with HIV in the UK hit 96,000 in 2011, with 6,280 new diagnoses that year.
    'As a matter of urgency the Government needs to put resources behind educating people that HIV hasn’t gone away, it is more prevalent than ever and safer sex is vital to reduce HIV transmission.'
    The survey was released to mark STiQ Day - which encourages people to think about their sexual health.
    There is currently no cure for HIV, however treatments are far more effective at enabling people with the virus to lead a more normal life.
    As a result someone diagnosed with HIV in their 30s can now expect to live into their 70s.
    Medication, known as antiretrovirals, works by slowing down the damage the virus does to the immune system. It prevents HIV from progressing into AIDS when the immune system stops working, leaving sufferers prey to life-threatening illnesses.

    Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2262128/Half-Britons-wrongly-think-HIV-bitten-spat-standing-discarded-needle.html#ixzz2Hy7mgVQN 
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