A new study has found that people who are tested for sexually transmitted diseases, such as HIV, may be less likely to go to the doctor.
The study, published in the journal HIV-AIDS Care, looked at a sample of about 1,300 HIV-positive people in England.
Participants were asked about their sexual behaviour and how they had been treated by their doctors over the previous two years.
Participants were asked to complete a self-administered questionnaire about their attitudes towards HIV and to provide medical and mental health information about themselves.
The results revealed that people with a higher number of diagnoses in their medical records were less likely than those with fewer diagnoses to seek medical attention for HIV and other STDs.
Dr Sarah Kossman, the study’s lead author, said: “These findings may be related to the fact that those who are diagnosed with HIV or have other conditions that can be treated, such a mood disorder or schizophrenia, may also be less willing to seek out specialist care.”
The researchers also found that the more recent diagnoses were also associated with poorer mental health.
Dr Kosser said that although the study showed that people in their mid-60s and older people were more likely to have HIV than people of similar age, the link was less clear for younger people.
Dr Jane Ward, head of HIV-specific services at the National Health Service in England, said that the findings suggested that the UK’s current HIV/STD treatment strategies may not work for people in this age group.
“We are currently working on our own approach to improving care for those people who do need care and who are older than 60 years old, and we are continuing to listen to their feedback,” she said.
“For example, we have recently announced that we will be introducing a new HIV test for people aged 18-25 years old.”
The study found that HIV diagnoses in the United Kingdom had fallen by more than 20% since 2008.
However, Dr Ward said that many of the findings were not particularly surprising.
“People may think, ‘well, I am HIV positive but I’m going to the GP because I am not sure what is going on’,” she said, “and if they do go to a GP they may be asked to go in for a test.”
However, she said the results do not necessarily mean that people will be better off when they seek medical care, and that the current testing systems are “not really effective at diagnosing and treating STDs”.
Dr Krossman said that her research team would be examining whether there is any need to change the way HIV-negative people are treated.
“I think this work does highlight that we need to consider the possibility of changing some of our current HIV screening and treatment strategies,” she added.
“But we will also be looking at whether we can improve the way people are assessed and treated and whether we need additional interventions that are more effective at improving the health of people who have been diagnosed with these conditions.”
The BBC’s news programme Today programme has been carrying the story of HIV test and treatment in the U.K. for two weeks.
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