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Under-25s 'should have routine HIV tests'
  23 December, 2010 | By The Press Association
Routine HIV screening should be introduced in the UK for people under the age of 25, sexual health experts have said.
An estimated one in four people in this age group with HIV is unaware that they have the virus.
The British Association for Sexual Health and HIV (BASSH) and NAM Aidsmap said that testing young people for the virus during hospital or GP visits would lead to earlier diagnosis.
Although 13,000 under-25s in the UK have HIV, only those considered most at risk are routinely screened.
At-risk groups include sexually active gay men, black Africans living in the UK and drug addicts who share needles. The virus breaks down the body's immune system and has no cure.
It can develop into AIDS if left untreated.
BASHH spokesman Dr Steven Taylor, a leading consultant at Birmingham's Heartlands HIV Service, said: "One of the reasons that GPs and doctors don't often offer HIV tests is that we have a perception of what someone with HIV looks like.
"The average person on the street just doesn't feature on the radar."
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