New HIV Diagnoses In Gay And Bisexual Men At Their Lowest In 20 Years
The number of new HIV diagnoses in gay and bisexual has dropped to a 20-year low, according to Public Health England (PHE).
A new report has revealed that just 1,700 new HIV diagnoses were made in gay and bisexual men in 2019 – the lowest number since 1,500 diagnoses were made in 2000.
Not only that, but new diagnoses across people of all sexualities and genders have also dropped by 10% from 4,580 cases in 2018, to 4,139. There has been steady decline of 34%, since 2014 saw a peak of 6,312 new diagnoses.
In the past decade, transmission of the virus among gay and bisexual men has fallen by a huge 80%, from an estimated peak of around 2,700 new diagnoses in 2011.
HIV – or human immunodeficiency virus – is a sexually-transmitted virus that attacks a person’s blood cells and makes it difficult for them to fend off other infections and diseases.
The most common form of transmission of HIV is through unprotected sex, however it can also be passed on by sharing needles.
While there isn’t a cure for HIV, it is no longer thought of as a ‘death sentence’ thanks to antiretroviral therapy, which allows people with HIV to live healthy and normal lives without transmitting the virus to their sexual partners.
Getting a diagnosis for HIV is key, so that treatment can be administered to prevent it from turning into AIDS, which is the later stage of the virus, when the body’s immune system has been damaged.
While there are some symptoms to HIV, such as flu-like indicators, it’s important to note that you can’t always rely on symptoms, and anyone having unprotected sex should regularly get tested. These days, many pharmacies offer home testing kits, so it’s easier than ever to keep up with regular testing.
According to PHE, the decline in diagnoses among gay and bisexual men is largely down to the use of condoms, regular testing, starting treatment early on positive cases to prevent transmission, and PrEP, a drug that people can take to prevent them from catching HIV.
It’s hoped that all of these factors combined will be able to end the transmission of HIV by 2030.
‘Frequent HIV testing, the offer of PrEP among those most at risk of HIV, together with prompt treatment among those diagnosed, remain key to ending HIV transmission by 2030,’ Dr Valerie Delpech, head of HIV surveillance at PHE, told the BBC.
‘Further progress can only be achieved if we also address the inequalities in reducing HIV transmission that exist around sexuality, ethnicity and geography.’
These latest statistics are a huge step in the right direction.
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