Health protection experts estimate there are now 77,400 people with HIV in Britain. There were more than 7,000 new diagnoses in 2007 - a rise of 6% on the previous year. Almost a third of people are diagnosed late - meaning they are missing the benefits of early treatment. Gay men accounted for 41% of new cases, but the Health Protection Agency said heterosexual transmission is steadily increasing too. The estimated number of people infected through heterosexual contact within Britain has nearly doubled from 540 new diagnoses in 2003 to 960 in 2007. The bulk of the 4,260 new heterosexual cases were acquired abroad. Lisa Power, of the HIV charity Terrence Higgins Trust, said the fact that so many people were unaware that they were infected with HIV posed a serious threat to public health. She said: "Not only is this dangerous to their own health, but they are more likely to pass the virus on than someone who has been diagnosed. Gay men and African people are most likely to have undiagnosed HIV in the UK so we would urge people in those groups in particular to recognise their level of risk and get tested for HIV regularly." Overall, 31% of people diagnosed last year were diagnosed very late - perhaps years after infection.
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