THE number of gay men diagnosed with HIV has reached the highest level ever recorded for this country, according to new figures.
The Health Protection Surveillance Centre says the number of new cases has been "rising steeply" since 2008 and reached record levels in 2012.
Altogether 166 gay men were diagnosed with HIV in 2012 compared to 131 heterosexuals and 14 intravenous drug users.
Although figures have not been completed for 2013 the HPSC says "this increasing trend has continued" with 82 gay men diagnosed for the first time in the first six months of the year. Almost half of those who contracted HIV in 2012 tested negative for the infection in the previous 12 months.
The HPSC report says the average age of newly diagnosed men was 31, with the biggest increase in the 20-29 age group.
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