The number of people diagnosed with HIV in the United Kingdom this year has risen by a quarter over 2001, U.K. health officials announced. The Public Health Laboratory Service said 2,945 new HIV diagnoses were reported from January 1 through September 30, a 25% increase over the same period last year. "We were very concerned last year when we saw a record number of new HIV diagnoses, but these latest figures are even more disturbing," said Kevin Fenton, head of the center's HIV division. "We are not only diagnosing infections that were acquired many years ago. HIV is a current, not historical, problem."
Public health minister Hazel Blears said the latest figures are "extremely worrying." She said the government is launching an ad campaign aimed at young people, featuring safer-sex messages on the radio, posters, scratch cards, and beer mats. "The level of knowledge is remarkably low--frighteningly low--and that's why this campaign, I believe, will be very effective, because a lot of people don't know, for example, that one in nine people have had a sexually transmitted infection," she said.