Surveillance for the impact in the UK of HIV epidemics in South Asia

Susan Cliffe*, Janet Mortimer, Christine McGarrigle, Eldonna Boisson, John Parry, Andrew Turner, Jayesh Mithal, David Goldberg, Angus Nicoll

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


Objectives. To determine whether, because of the extensive recent spread of HIV infection in South Asia, South Asians (those people who classify themselves as Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi or Sri Lankan in origin) resident in the UK were at increased risk of HIV infection and to review current surveillance systems for detecting any such increase. Design. Analysis of: ethnic grouping and probable country of infection recorded on voluntary confidential reports of AIDS cases and newly diagnosed HIV infections; blood donation testing data; reports of imported gonorrhoea infections; country of birth data from the unlinked anonymous (UA) survey of Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD) clinic attenders; district of residence data from the UA survey of pregnant women; ethnic grouping of prevalent diagnosed HIV infections. Results. Few reported AIDS cases or HIV infections were found in people of South Asian ethnic origin and few reported HIV or gonorrhoea infections were associated with exposure in South Asia. Data derived from the UA programme suggested as yet no increase in HIV prevalence in either STD clinic attenders born in South Asia or in pregnant women resident in districts containing substantial numbers of ethnic South Asians. Conclusions. There was no evidence that South Asians resident in the UK are currently at greater risk of HIV infection than people of white ethnicity or, therefore, that south Asian heterosexuals are a group deserving priority in HIV prevention. However, as rapid spread of HIV infection is being recorded in the Indian subcontinent, continuous monitoring is necessary. This will be facilitated by improved collection of ethnic group information in all surveillance activities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5-18
Number of pages14
JournalEthnicity and Health
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 1999


  • Ethnicity
  • HIV
  • South Asians
  • Surveillance
  • United Kingdom


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