New figures released today by Public Health England (PHE) show the HIV epidemic amongst gay and bisexual men in the UK shows no sign of abating. The figures point to ongoing failures of frontline health services to support at-risk men through regular HIV testing and prevention support.

The number of gay and bisexual men diagnosed with HIV in 2012 reached the all-time high of 3,250. Nearly half of those people were diagnosed with HIV when they tested for the first time.

Despite clear national guidelines recommending GPs and hospitals in high risk areas routinely offer tests, most are failing to do so. At the same time it was found 16% of gay and bisexual men do not to have an HIV test when attending a sexual health clinic.

The National Aids Trust’s chief executive Deborah Jack says: ‘The report shows half of gay and bisexual men are finding out they have HIV they test for the first time at that clinic and 34% are diagnosed late.

‘We know at least half of new transmissions originate from people who don’t know they have HIV. It is important that gay and bisexual men are being pro-actively offered an HIV test at least annually by their sexual health clinic or GP.’

Paul Ward, Acting Chief Executive at HIV and sexual health charity Terrence Higgins Trust, added: ‘We’ve never been in a stronger position to beat the virus, with cutting-edge testing services and free, world-class drug treatments for anyone who tests positive. Modern tests are fast, simple and confidential – gay men can even test by post. We fully believe we can turn the tide of the epidemic, but we need to see more men testing, and testing more regularly, to make it a reality.’

There are now more than 100,000 people living with HIV in the UK, of whom more than 20,000 remain undiagnosed. Scientists and public health bodies agree that undiagnosed infection is a key factor driving the epidemic.