HC Deb 24 July 1990 vol 177 cc176-7W
Mr. McAllion

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what is his assessment of the proportion of people with HIV infection who will go on to develop full-blown AIDS.

Mrs. Virginia Bottomley

The latest estimate on the proportion of people infected with HIV who will progress to AIDS from the San Francisco city clinic cohort study of 489 homosexual men is 53 per cent. at 11.1 years. By 1990, of those known to have been infected between 1977 and 1980, 61 per cent. had developed AIDS and a further 18 per cent. had AIDS-related complex. Only 14 per cent. of those infected with HIV for 10 years or longer did not show physiological markers of damage to the immune system. Data from studies of other groups of people infected with HIV including injecting drug misusers show similar rates of progression.

Since 1987 the use of zidovudine has been reducing the rate at which people with early HIV disease progress to AIDS. It is probable that zidovudine only temporarily halts the progress of the disease. Current information suggests that at least 75 per cent. of people infected with HIV will develop AIDS and this figure may eventually rise to over 90 per cent.

Mr. Dalyell

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what communications he has had with Dr. Perutz and his colleagues concerning the dissemination of information about AIDS since 12 June; and if he will make a statement.

Mrs. Virginia Bottomley

We have not been in communication with Dr. Perutz, but the Department contacted a number of Dr. Perutz's medical and scientific colleagues about the content of the Channel 4 programme "Despatches". The issues raised in the programme, which appeared to be based on a misunderstanding of the nature of AIDS, have subsequently been the subject of correspondence in the medical and scientific press and in newspapers. Dr. Anthony Pinching appeared on television with the producer of the programme and refuted many of its claims. We are grateful to Dr. Perutz for his action in writing to the press drawing attention to the erroneous information contained in the programme.

Programmes of this kind underline the importance of public education initiatives which have already begun to reduce the spread of HIV infection in the United Kingdom, and point to the need for a continuing programme of education to sustain public awareness and knowledge, and influence behaviour.