HIV Infections Among Gay And Bi Men Fall By 73% In UK Since 2014
Recent figures from Public Health England show the number of gay and bisexual men diagnosed with HIV has declined substantially, with a 73% drop since 2014.
The figures indicate a steep drop in fresh HIV diagnoses across the UK; as per the Terrence Higgins Trust, there was a 6% drop in new diagnoses in 2018 from 2017 and a 28% drop compared to 2015.
For gay and bisexual men, the number of HIV transmissions has dropped from 2,300 in 2014 to 800 in 2018 – and it’s been attributed to PrEP.
Available in England, Scotland and Wales, PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) is a drug taken by HIV-negative people before and after sex that helps reduce the risk of contracting the virus.
The Terrence Higgins Trust explains further:
Taking PrEP before being exposed to HIV means there’s enough drug inside you to block HIV if it gets into your body. The medication used for PrEP is a tablet which contains tenofovir and emtricitabine (drugs commonly used to treat HIV). It is sometimes called Truvada but most of the PrEP we use in the UK is generic PrEP.
Campaigners have been pushing for PrEP to be more widely accessible across the country (it should be noted that if you’re taking PrEP, it’s important to book STI checks every three months).
According to the BBC, there were an estimated 103,800 people living with HIV in the UK in 2018, and of that number, 93% have actually been diagnosed. Of those, 97% are receiving treatment.
Of the number receiving treatment for the virus, 97% are undetectable, meaning they aren’t able to transmit HIV to another person. Testing for the virus has also greatly increased across the past decade, with Health Secretary Matt Hancock believing the UK to be on target to end HIV transmission by 2030.
I feel very strongly that we must end HIV transmission. HIV has brought untold hurt and suffering to so many, so it is encouraging to see transmissions continue to fall across the UK.
While PrEP is widely and freely available in Scotland and Wales, patients in England have had to await access to an ‘impact trial’ – as of October 2019, 15 people in England have tested positive for HIV while waiting for the drug.
Phil Samba, of advocacy group Prepster, said that while we are living ‘in a new era of HIV prevention… unnecessary HIV infections are happening because of foot-dragging by politicians’. ‘Get a grip and fund a full Prep service now,’ he added.
If you’d like to find out more about PrEP and how to join the impact trial, check out the website or phone THT Direct on 0808 802 1221.
If you have a story you want to tell, send it to UNILAD via [email protected]
CreditsTerrence Higgins Trust and 1 other
Terrence Higgins Trust