Yesterday (Sunday 1 December) was World AIDS Day and there has been a great deal of activity in recent weeks to draw attention to the reality that HIV has not gone away – in fact, infections in the UK have risen – and associated issues of stigma, prejudice and discrimination remain potent obstacles to dealing with the condition and its consequences.
A survey released by the Terrence Higgins Trust was frightening: while 53 per cent of people with HIV continued to believe that diagnosis is a death sentence (wrong), 37% apparently thought there was now a cure (also wrong). Meanwhile, last year (2012), there were 3,250 diagnoses among gay and bisexual men – the highest figure ever. In London, diagnoses were up 8% on 2011.
Alongside this, other research confirmed the large number of people who have been infected but who are not aware of it. Never was the need for testing more urgent, never was the need for a public information campaign more pressing.