HIV still on the rise in some Western cities
In the 1980s, when AIDS was first being recognized as an epidemic, there was a lot of awareness about the disease, even if many facts about transmission were unknown. Nowadays, the condition is discussed far less often and many officials believe that this poses a public health risk.
In Reading, England, the number of people diagnosed with HIV is on the rise, with a rate of infection that is much higher than most other major cities in the United Kingdom. This highlights the need for teen sex education and other initiatives that will help spread awareness of the risks.
"We believe knowledge of this virus is the key, both to bringing down the number of people contracting HIV and to removing the stigma that seems to go all too comfortably with this virus," writes Jessica Harding on the U.K.'s GetReading website. Harding works for the Thames Valley Positive Support (TVPS), a local sexual health charity that helps those affected by HIV.
She emphasizes that HIV is spread through only three ways – unprotected sex, sharing unsterilized needles or being passed from mother to child.
Consequently, TVPS has teamed up with the West Berkshire Primary Care Trust to create an initiative that will provide free condoms to those who are deemed as high-risk or particularly vulnerable to HIV infection. The condoms will be available in a number of different venues and the organizations hope that, by making contraceptives more accessible, the rate of the disease will be curbed.
While the rate of HIV is relatively low in the UK compared to other countries – 86,500 people have the illness – Avert.org reports that the number of Brits who are suffering from it "increased dramatically" in the 1990s.