HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus and is the virus known to cause AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome).
HIV kills or damages cells of the body's immune system, progressively destroying its ability to fight infections and certain cancers.
A person infected with HIV is only said to have AIDS either when the immune system damage has reached a certain severity or they have developed one or more of a list of 26 otherwise rare illnesses as a result of the immune system breakdown. It can take from a few months to over 10 years for an infected person to develop symptoms.
HIV is passed on from an infected person through the transfer of body fluids such as blood, semen, vaginal fluid and breast milk.
There are certain groups whose activities may put them at higher risk of infection than others. These include; men who have sex with men (MSM), injecting drug users (IDU), people who have lived as adults in countries where heterosexual transmission of HIV is common (notably South, East and Central Africa) and babies born to infected mothers.
There is no vaccine or cure yet available for HIV infection but there is treatment which dramatically slows the progress of the disease.
General information about HIV/AIDS is available on the Public Health Wales main website at: http://www.wales.nhs.uk/sitesplus/888/page/43730
Surveillance of HIV/AIDS in the UK is undertaken by the Health Protection Agency (HPA) with the collaboration of Public Health Wales for the collection of data for Wales. The latest surveillance report of HIV in the UK was published by the HPA in November 2012 and is available from the link: HIV in the United Kingdom: 2012 Report
The latest trends in the rate of gonorrhoea in Wales (and of other STIs) are available in the report: HIV and STI Trends in Wales report: April 2012 [Pdf, 1.1Mb]
As many of those who are infected do not know that they have acquired HIV, complex methods of surveillance are needed to estimate the number of people with HIV infection.
Within the UK, information on HIV infections is collected from several sources. The major sources of information for Wales are:
The data given below is reproduced from the latest HIV New Diagnoses Quarterly Surveillance Tables. These tables are available to download from the HPA website from the link: HPA-New Diagnoses of HIV Surveillance Tables
Numbers, particularly for recent years, may rise due to the delay in receiving some reports. Data presented here is to the end of June 2012.
1. New diagnoses of HIV in Wales: 1981-2012
2. HIV diagnoses, AIDS cases and deaths in Wales by year: 1981-2012
3. New diagnoses of HIV in the UK: 1981-2012
Worldwide: To date around 65 million people have been infected with HIV globally and 25 million people have died of AIDS since it was first recognised in 1981.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), there was an estimated 34.2 million [31.8 million–35.9 million] people who were living with HIV during 2011. There were an estimated 2.5 million [2.2 million–2.8 million] people who became newly infected with HIV during 2011 and 1.7 million [1.6 million–2.0 million] people died from AIDS.
Globally, the annual number of people newly infected with HIV continues to decline, although there is stark regional variation. In sub-Saharan Africa, where most of the people newly infected with HIV live, an estimated 1.9 million [1 700 000–2 100 000] people became infected in 2010. This was 16% fewer than the estimated 2.2 million [2 100 000–2 400 000] people newly infected with HIV in 2001 and 27% fewer than the annual number of people newly infected between 1996 and 1998, when the incidence of HIV in sub-Saharan Africa peaked overall.
Not all regions and countries fit the overall trends, however. The annual number of people newly infected with HIV has risen in the Middle East and North Africa from 43 000 [31 000–57 000] in 2001 to 59 000 [40 000–73 000] in 2010. After slowing drastically in the early 2000s, the incidence of HIV infection in Eastern Europe and Central Asia has been accelerating again since 2008.
More information is available from the WHO website at: http://www.who.int/hiv/en/
In 2011, the Health Protection Agency (HPA) estimated there were about 96,000 people of all ages with HIV living in the UK. Approximately one quarter of these are undiagnosed and thus are unaware they are infected with HIV. This is an increase from the 91,500 people estimated to have been living with HIV by the end of 2010. The estimated prevalence of HIV in 2011 was 1.5 per 1,000 (1.5-1.6) population of all ages, 2.1 per 1,000 (1.9 – 2.3) men and 1.0 per 1,000 (1.0 – 1.1) women.
In 2011, there were 6,280 new HIV diagnoses in the UK; a 21% decline from the peak in new diagnoses in 2005. The decrease is largely due to a reduction in the number of diagnoses reported among those born outside of the UK. New diagnoses among MSM have been increasing since 2007 with 3,010 reports in 2011, representing an all-time high. Direct and indirect measures of incidence show that the rate of HIV transmission in this population remains high. Over half of the 2,990 heterosexual men and women diagnosed in 2011 probably acquired their HIV infection in the UK, compared to 27% in 2002. Over half of the 2,990 heterosexual men and women diagnosed in 2011 probably acquired their HIV infection in the UK, compared to 27% in 2002. [Source: HPA HIV in the United Kingdom: 2012 Report http://www.hpa.org.uk/webc/HPAwebFile/HPAweb_C/1317137200016].
Wales: In Wales up to the end of June 2012, there have been 2128 individuals diagnosed with HIV infection. However, this number may change due to the delay in receiving some reports [Source HPA: New Diagnoses of HIV Wales Data http://www.hpa.org.uk/web/HPAweb&HPAwebStandard/HPAweb_C/1204013005728].
The HPA report 169 new diagnoses of HIV infection in Wales in 2011 and is an increase when compared to 2009 (141) and 2010 (151) and is over double the number of new diagnoses recorded in 2001 (66). The highest number of new diagnoses in Wales since the start of the epidemic was recorded in 2007 at 176. Fifteen new AIDS diagnoses and 11 deaths in HIV-diagnosed individuals were reported from Wales in 2011.
In Wales during 2011, the percentage of new diagnoses probably acquired by heterosexual contact was 36% (60 of 169 new diagnoses) and the number aquired through sex between men was 47% (80 of 169).
The number of new diagnoses in women in recent years has risen, from 6 in 1999 to 71 in 2006 (17% to 45% of total new positives); a decrease in new diagnoses in women was observed from 2007-2010 (between 25-28% of total new positives) but 2011 saw an increase to 31% of all new positives. In Since 1999, all pregnant women have been offered an HIV test as a routine part of antenatal care.
The number of newly diagnosed HIV positives in Wales reporting injecting drug use as their most likely source of infection has remained low at less than 5 diagnoses per year since 2001.
In total, 88 individuals reported probably contracting HIV through other means which include receiving contaminated blood/tissue products and from mother to infant. Heat viral inactivation treatment of blood concentrates and blood donor screening was introduced in the UK in 1985.
New infections acquired since 2002 via blood/tissue products were aquired outside of the UK.
Data from the SOPHID survey which collects annual data on diagnosed HIV-infected individuals resident in Wales and seen for care indicates that the number of people living in Wales and accessing HIV-related care was 1471 in 2011, giving a prevalence rate for HIV/AIDS in Wales of 49 per 100,000 population. This compares to 330 people in 2000.
There has been a steady increase in the prevalence of HIV in Wales, with an 11% increase in the number of Welsh residents seen for HIV care in 2011 (from 1320 people seen in 2009).
This increase in prevalence in the last decade reflects improved survival due to better treatments and the immigration of people into Wales who have acquired their infection overseas.
However, there continues to be transmission of HIV in Wales, particularly in men who have sex with men (MSM). In 2010, over half of prevalent cases (781) probably acquiring infection through sex between men, a 14% increase in the number seen for care in 2010.
Five hundred and eighty-six (40%) of those seen for care in Wales in 2011 probably acquired their infection through sex between men and women. Of these, a large proportion will have acquired their infection in high prevalence countries overseas before coming to Wales.
Twenty-six people seen for care probably acquired infection through injecting drug use, no change on the number seen in 2010.
More details about the prevalence of HIV in Wales using SOPHID data is available from the report: HIV and STI Trends in Wales report: April 2012 [Pdf, 1.1Mb] with data to the end of 2010. The latest SOPHID data for Wales (to the end of 2011) is available from the HPA website at: http://www.hpa.org.uk/web/HPAwebFile/HPAweb_C/1252660085192
If further surveillance data for HIV/AIDS in Wales is required, it may be possible to provide it on special request. Please use the surveillance data request form provided from this link.
Last updated: 06/12/2012