HIV infections up 20% in Sweden

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500 people were newly diagnosed as HIV positive in Sweden in 2007 according to data published by the Swedish Institute for Infectious Disease Control (SMI).

That number represents a rise of 20% on 2006.

There has been a 70% rise in the number of people infected within Sweden, though the majority of new HIV patients still come into contact with the virus abroad.

“We have especially seen an increase in the number of new infections among men who have sex with men and needle-users,” SMI statistician Malin Arneborn told AFP.

MSM infections rose from 50 cases in 2006 to 80 in 2007.

“Interest in HIV/AIDS has gradually declined as people have become more accustomed to the threat,” Claes Herlitz, an expert in Swedish attitudes to HIV, told AFP.

“They’ve seen that HIV hasn’t spread as quickly as we thought it would in the late 80s, and there are new medicines making it more difficult to get AIDS. Fewer people are dying.”

In the UK the Health Protection Agency revealed in November that the number of gay and bisexual men diagnosed with HIV in the UK is at its highest rate since the start of the epidemic.

2,700 gay and bisexual men were newly diagnosed last year, the highest number ever.

Across the UK 1 in 20 gay and bisexual men are now living with HIV and estimates suggest this figure is as high as 1 in 10 in London.

Furthermore, nearly half (47 per cent) of HIV infected gay men who visit a sexual health clinic leave without being tested for HIV.

Overall diagnoses in the UK remain high.

7,800 people were diagnosed last year, and the numbers living with HIV in the UK were 73,000 by the end of 2006.

One in three people do not know they are infected.

If rates continue the National AIDS Trust says that by 2010 there will be 100,000 people living with HIV in the UK.

The report also reveals worrying findings among young people with 1 in 10 (11 per cent) new diagnoses last year among 16 to 24 years old.