7. August 2012 13:51
The risk of HIV infection is growing in the UK due to lack of awareness among young adults, experts have said.
The issue presents a challenge for the new public health strategy, in which local authorities will have responsibility for sexual health.
The Department of Health has allocated £8m to the voluntary sector to raise awareness of HIV in England.
According to the Health Protection Agency, nearly 3,500 young adults (aged 16 to 24) have been diagnosed with HIV in the last five years.
London-based sexual health expert Paul Steinberg commented that younger people were not exposed to past HIV awareness campaigns and took for granted its treatability through combination therapy.
The disease has “dropped off the radar” for many people, he said, but it remains incurable and life-limiting.
After April 2013, responsibility for sexual health will shift from NHS to local authority control. However, HIV treatment will be handled by the NHS Commissioning Board.
The Department of Health recently allocated £8m to the Terrence Higgins Trust, the leading AIDS charity, to raise awareness of HIV over the next three years.
The charity has been asked to target those groups most at risk of HIV infection through sexual activity: gay men and black and African people.
The issue reflects the global nature of public health issues relating to infectious diseases, as well as the complexity of the new public health system in England.