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Report Says 20 Percent of UK Patients 'Shun HIV Test'

Health officials in the United Kingdom are worried that people are reluctant to be tested for HIV, even when it is offered to them free of charge.

The Health Protection Agency is concerned too few people know if they have even been infected with the virus.

A report by the HPA revealed that 1 in 5 people in 2010, visiting a sexual health or genitourinary medicine clinic, did not accept an HIV test.

According to the British Broadcasting Corporation, the number of people living with HIV in the United Kingdom reached approximately 91,500 in 2010. This was up from 86,500 the previous year.

“This rise is mostly due to infections acquired among men who have sex with men, who remain the group most at risk of HIV infection in the U.K.,” said the HPA.

Dr. Valerie Delpech, consultant epidemiologist and head of HIV surveillance at the HPA, said the situation has to change.

"People probably do not understand how easy it is to diagnose HIV and that with early treatment their chances of survival are near to normal,” said Delpech. “We are very concerned that a large number of people in the U.K. are unaware of their HIV status and are diagnosed late. We encourage all people to take up the offer of an HIV test in whatever health care setting."

In 2010, over 3,000 gay men were diagnosed with HIV, the highest ever annual number recorded from the Health Protection Agency. The BBC reported that 1 in 20 gay men are infected with HIV, and in the capital city of London that figure is closer to 1 in 11.

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