Various social media posts are claiming that as per UKHSA report heterosexual people are more at risk of HIV. We fact checked and found this claim to be Half True.
“HIV now infects more heterosexual people than gay or bisexual men” reads a social media post.
Another post goes in a similar way and reads, “Straight people are more at risk of HIV for a week and there’s already a cure”
What did the UKHSA report say?
The UKHSA report shows that in 2020 in England, there were 940 HIV diagnoses in gay and bisexual men and 1,010 in heterosexual people. It acknowledges that COVID-19 changed the patterns of sexual behavior, HIV testing, and access to sexual health and HIV services in 2020, and it also shows how HIV diagnoses have declined in both groups.
Does HIV now infect more heterosexual people than gay or bisexual men?
No. There is no clear evidence that HIV infects more heterosexual men than gay or bisexual men. Though the UKSHA data showed higher number of HIV for heterosexual, the study was done on a very small sample size and is limited to a particular geography.
Rather, there are number of researches in the past that has shown that homosexual people are more susceptible to HIV than gay or bisexual people.
The CDC states that “Gay, bisexual, and other men who reported male-to-male sexual contact are disproportionately affected by HIV. Social and structural issues—such as HIV stigma, homophobia, discrimination, poverty, and limited access to high-quality healthcare—influence health outcomes and continue to drive inequities.”
A 2020 report from the European Centre for Disease and Prevention Control also says that “sex between men remains the predominant mode of HIV transmission” (page no.12).
Hence, the number of diagnoses as a proportion of the two populations was the context of the report and is misinterpreted and the claim is false.
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