Infection with the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) is a public health threat whose significance in the UK has only been generally appreciated over the last 12–18 months. The size of the problem (both current and potential) is difficult to assess, but epidemiological data would suggest that for an urban health district (outside London) one or two residents would have developed Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) in 1986, four will do so in 1987 and six in 1988. The incidence of HIV infections during the same period might be as high as 200, 400 and 600 respectively. This may seem a small number in comparison with overall morbidity and mortality; but between September 1990 and June 1991 the same health district might expect 48 AIDS cases to present if the epidemiological patterns remain constant (ie a doubling time for cases of 10 months).
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