HIV infection rates are rising in Britain
Young people in Britain don't care about the risk of catching HIV – despite living in the only country in Western Europe where infection rates are rising.
Two-thirds of 15 to 24-year-olds say they are not worried about getting the virus, even though nearly 9,000 people become infected every year.
The revelation has been described as a 'wake-up call' by a charity, which claims ignorance is growing because it has been 20 years since a major Aids awareness campaign has been run.
'I wonder how many cases we need before we are going to start taking it seriously,' a Terrence Higgins Trust spokeswoman said.
HIV infections are rising in Britain but falling in the rest of the world, the UN said last week. There were 8,925 new infections in the country last year compared with 7,700 in 2005 and more than double the 4,152 in 2001.
However, just 32 per cent of young British people fear they will get the virus. In South Africa the figure is 83 per cent and in Ethiopia the figure is 42 per cent.
One in seven young people in Britain also said they would not be willing to remain friends with someone if they had HIV.
The latest figures are released today by the Red Cross as it launches a campaign on social networking sites and through other digital media to highlight the threat of the virus.
It also comes against a backdrop of soaring rates of other sexually transmitted infections in Britain.
The Department of Health said it had 'strengthened' its HIV promotion work and was spending £130million on improving sexual health services.