UK: Number of HIV transmissions dropped 71% among gay and bisexual men

Since 2012, the number of new HIV-infections in the UK has decreased with 71% for gay and bisexual men, as shown by the numbers provided by Public Health England. The same statistics illustrate that 97% of the people that are treated for HIV, have an undetectable viral load, thus are not able to transmit the virus to other persons.
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The British government itself says they strive to reduce the number of hiv transmissions to zero by 2030. “We are well on our way to reaching the goal of eliminating HIV transmission by 2030,” says Noel Gill, Head of STIs and HIV at Public Health England. “Testing is a key part of the UK’s success, if you have HIV you can benefit from life-saving treatments that also prevent further transmission of the virus.”

“I feel very strongly that we must end HIV transmission,” says Health Secretary Matt Hancock, responding to the numbers. “My unwavering commitment to prevention, and public health campaigns, have tackled the unjust stigma around HIV and has led to more people getting tested and benefitting from life-saving treatment.”

HIV advocacy organisations welcome the numbers, but immediately face the facts that multiple HIV transmissions could be prevented if PrEP was widely available in England. The National AIDS Trust says: The Government must once and for all deliver the funding necessary to enable routine commissioning of PrEP as part of a comprehensive and properly funded sexual health service.”

Debbie Laycock of Terrence Higgins Trust is urging the secretary to fund PrEP as well: “He says prevention and public health are clear priorities for this Government yet access to HIV prevention pill PrEP remains capped in England and sexual health services are struggling to cope with demand.” PrEP is only fully available in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. In England, people can only get it on a trial basis. Laycock adds: “Waiting lists across the country are growing and we know that several men have been diagnosed with HIV while trying to access PrEP. This is a scandal and underlines why the limited availability of PrEP risks seriously holding us back in the fight against HIV.”


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