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Monday, March 15, 1999 Published at 12:40 GMT


UK 'complacency' over Aids

Gay and bisexual men still most at risk

The National Aids Trust has warned that people in the UK are becoming complacent about the dangers of HIV and Aids.

National Aids Trust's Derek Bodell: "HIV is preventable"
The number of new cases per year have reached a "plateau", but organisations that work with the disease are concerned because numbers of fresh infections should be falling.

Latest figures show that 2,800 people contracted HIV in the UK last year, in line with the persistently high rate of the last five years.

Most infections continue to be among gay and bisexual men. However, there is an increase in the numbers of heterosexuals infected.

[ image: New drugs: May be adding to complacency]
New drugs: May be adding to complacency
Since 1990, more than 20,000 people have been diagnosed with the virus, which is a precursor to developing full-blown Aids.

Director of the National Aids Trust Derek Bodell told Radio 5 Live that "a degree of complacency" had developed, because "people think HIV is over".

"We're not seeing the big campaigns that we were in the mid-80s," he said.

"I think we've now got a whole new generation who think that HIV is not the issue that it was for the generation before them."

'New system of reporting'

But Mr Bodell said that a "big blitz campaign" was probably not the answer, but rather "a consistent level of information for people to realise that HIV remains a risk for them".

He said that figures for new infections were higher this year because of a new system of reporting, but added that a constant level of infections was still bad because the disease is "preventable".

"People with new treatments are living healthier and longer and that's good news, but I think it has had its down side," he said.

"I sense that people have seen these new treatments and said to themselves: 'Maybe HIV isn't the problem that it used to be.' That isn't the message we want to get across."

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