Last week was the first HPE (HIV Prevention England) conference where hundreds of people working in the field of HIV prevention – activists, doctors, researchers, client workers etc. – got together and discussed some of the more pressing issues related to HIV prevention today. There were lots of up to date stats used to make arguments about future directions of prevention work and this week’s blog wants to highlight some of the latest numbers that came out of the conference and what they could mean. So get your mathematical brains on as we have a closer look at some of these numbers:
Increasing age of those living with HIV: Now 1/4 of those living with HIV are over 50. The mortality rate of this age group is 3 x the general HIV positive population.
Decreasing number of those who are positive but unaware of their status: This now stands at 22% and is slowly dropping.
The average age of an HIV positive diagnosis is 36.
Number diagnosed from abroad is increasing: The number of those diagnosed as HIV positive from abroad has increased from 43% to 55%.
Transmission through injecting drugs represents about 2% of HIV positive diagnoses.
Models show than an increase in HIV testing of x2 to x3 current rates is needed to cause a plateau and reduction in new HIV diagnoses.
What do you think about the numbers above? Maybe, you think, alone, they can provide us with some useful pointers about necessary future HIV prevention work – perhaps highlighting testing need and the need for more work with the over 50s and work with those born outside the UK . Maybe, on the other hand, you’re less convinced by numbers and feel that we should take a more qualitative approach – looking at the thoughts, opinions and feelings behind HIV prevention approaches and use this to shape future approaches, and maybe you can identify some weaknesses relying on the stats above. In that case, you might agree with Benjamin Disralei who commented that ‘There are 3 types of lies. ‘Lies, damn lies and statistics’. Or, maybe you’re somewhere in the middle and think that statistics like those above can tell us a lot, but relying on them alone can to plan future work can be unwise and think they should be looked it with other evidence too. Whatever you think about the stats above we would like to hear back from you! Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.