More straight people than gay people being diagnosed with HIV in Kent

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Straight people being diagnosed with HIV in Kent now outnumber gay people who are diagnosed, according to a new study.

The research, carried out at Canterbury Christ Church University, found that the number of diagnoses among men who have sex with men is now lower than for straight people.

Dr Stephen O’Connor told KentOnline: “The variety of people affected by HIV has changed dramatically since the virus first appeared.

“More heterosexuals were diagnosed with HIV in Kent than men who have sex with men.

“More worrying is the fact that heterosexuals, both male and female, are more likely to be diagnosed later with HIV than members of the better informed gay community, often because they, and many healthcare professionals, still associate HIV with gay men, intravenous drug users and sex workers.

“The study showed that GPs often fail to consider HIV as a possible cause for HIV related health problems and positively discourage some from having an HIV test at the appropriate time because of these outdated and misinformed assumptions.”

Following the research – which found about 80 new cases of HIV a year – Kent County Council announced an HIV testing scheme, that will tour the county.

Public health consultant Dr Faiza Khan said: “HIV hasn’t gone away. It’s there. You can’t get cured but there are treatments out there that can give people an almost normal life expectancy.”

The statistics – which show HIV increasing more in straight communities – buck a national trend, with HIV infections among gay men hitting a record high this year, and declining in other groups.