Charity calls on Milton Keynes politicians to address problem of late HIV diagnosis

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An HIV charity is urging political leaders in Milton Keynes to tackle the issue late diagnosis of the condition.

According to the National AIDS Trust (NAT), 70 per cent of people living with HIV are diagnosed late in Milton Keynes, meaning they have had the virus for at least four years. This, they say, has risen from 66 per cent in 2011, and is significantly worse than the England average for late diagnosis, which stands at 48 per cent.

Late diagnosis of HIV can result in poorer health, a decreased life expectancy and a greater chance of passing the virus on. People diagnosed late also have an eleven-fold increased risk of death within one year of HIV diagnosis compared to those diagnosed promptly.

Yusef Azad, director of policy and campaigns at NAT called on local election candidates to make HIV a priority in the coming local elections. He said: “Reducing the late diagnosis of HIV is a key public health responsibility for local councils and so these elections represent a real opportunity for councillors and political groups in Milton Keynes to make tackling the late diagnosis of HIV in the area a priority.

“The May 2014 elections will be the first to take place since local authorities regained their responsibility for public health – now councillors and political groups in Milton Keynes can make a lasting difference to the lives of people with HIV in their communities.”

The South of England accounts for 15 per cent of all HIV diagnosis in the UK, and Milton Keynes is classed as a ‘high prevalence’ area, meaning it has at least two people in every 1,000 living with diagnosed HIV. Currently, around one in every 366 people in Milton Keynes live with diagnosed HIV, whilst the UK-wide figure stands at one in 546.

NAT is asking people living with HIV in Milton Keynes and those who are concerned about HIV to write to their local councillors and election candidates calling on them to commit to tackling late diagnosis of HIV in the area.