A large study has suggested that more African people are acquiring HIV in the UK than previously estimated. It has generally been thought that the vast majority of African people living with HIV in the UK acquired their infection in an African country, before arrival in the UK.
The usual method used by the Health Protection Agency (HPA) to identify where someone was infected relies on information given by the individual to clinic staff at the time of diagnosis. But individuals may not always be completely frank about their sexual behaviour and their sexual history may be complex.
According to this method, just under 10% of black African heterosexual adults acquired their infection in the UK.
A new technique developed by the HPA compares a person’s CD4 cell count at the time of diagnosis and the year they arrived in the UK to calculate when they were likely to have been infected. Based on this method, 31% of black African heterosexual adults acquired their infection here.
And the proportion of UK infections in African people has risen in more recent years, from 24% in 2004 to 43% in 2010.
These data have implications for the resourcing of HIV prevention work with different communities in England.