Sharp Drop In New HIV Infections Linked To PrEP Use

For the first time in decades, the number of gay and bisexual men to be diagnosed with HIV has dropped by 21%, health experts say.

Recently published figures reveal that new HIV diagnoses among gay and bisexual men in the UK had dropped from 3,570 in 2015 to 2,810 in 2016. 

Numbers In London are even more impressive, where there was a reported 29% drop in new cases of HIV, among gay and bisexual men.

According to Public Health England (PHE), the decline can be attributed to an increase in testing, improvements in anti-retroviral therapy (following HIV diagnosis), sustained use of condoms, and increased adoption of PrEP. 

The decrease in HIV diagnoses in gay and bisexual men represents the most exciting development in the UK HIV epidemic in 20 years,, when effective treatment became widely available.. The HIV response in England will be further strengthened with the implementation of the PrEP Impact Trial over the next three years. It is critical that the success of increased HIV testing and prompt ART is replicated for all groups at greatest risk of the virus. 

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Dr Valerie Delpech, head of HIV surveillance at Public Health England, welcomed the data. She 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.'

She added the statistics provide 'clear evidence' that the Government's prevention efforts are working. 

A Washington Post report from this summer noted that in DC, a 74% drop in new HIV cases could also be linked to an increased use of PrEP.

In 2007, D.C. residents were diagnosed with HIV at a rate of nearly four per day. That rate dropped to less than one resident per day in 2016.

The 74 percent decline in new cases — from 1,333 in 2007 to 347 in 2016 — can be attributed to factors that include a needle-exchange program, condom distribution and increasing use of preventive medication to halt the spread of the disease, city officials said Tuesday.

“I’m pleased to say we have made considerable progress, but I don’t have to tell you there is more work to do,” Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) said at a news conference at the Whitman-Walker Health community clinic on 14th Street NW.