Experts have said it’s a “significant advance” in the fight against the disease
New cases of HIV, among gay and bisexual men, have significantly dropped for the first time. Public Health England (PHE) say there has been a 21% fall in the number of people newly diagnosed with HIV – the biggest decline on record.
Experts say the fall is “one of the most significant advances” in the fight against the disease, report the Telegraph. In London, an area of higher HIV prevalence, new cases fell by 29%
The decline has, in part, been attributed to the PrEP (preexposure prophylaxis) drug. “PrEP is a course of HIV drugs taken by HIV negative people before sex to reduce the chance of getting HIV,” the Terrance Higgins Trust says on its website. It is thought the pill reduces the risk of infection by 86%. The charity says: “Taking HIV medication before being exposed to HIV means there is enough drug inside you to block HIV if it gets into your body – before it has the chance to infect you. Results in trials have been very successful, with PrEP significantly lowering the risk of becoming HIV positive and without major side effects.”
According to The Telegraph, PHE’s Dr Valerie Delpech said: “This is very good news.”
“It is the first time since the beginning of the HIV epidemic in the 1980s that we have observed a decline in new HIV diagnoses among gay and bisexual men and is clear evidence that HIV prevention efforts are working across the United Kingdom.”
Talking about the findings, Terrence Higgins say that while this is the largest decrease ever seen, the new statistics also show that 42% of people with HIV were still being diagnosed late – with heterosexual men and individuals aged 50+ the most likely to experience late diagnosis.
Ian Green, Chief Executive adds:
“Today’s figures show we’ve started something – we’re beginning to see the reversal of the HIV epidemic in some communities in the UK.
“HIV diagnoses in gay and bisexual men, one of the groups most affected, are declining; showing what can be achieved when we utilise all the weapons in our arsenal against HIV transmission. This includes access to condoms, testing, PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) and diagnosing and treating people as early as possible so they can become uninfectious.
“But this is no time for complacency. We must keep this momentum going so we can see the same progress in other communities and bring the epidemic to an end.”