HIV infection rates fall sharply

A new report from NHS England highlights that rates of new HIV diagnoses have fallen sharply.

So much so that the NHS report talks optimistically of getting to zero new diagnoses ten years from now in 2030.

“HIV in the UK: towards zero HIV transmissions by 2030” notes that:

After a peak of new HIV diagnosesin the United Kingdom in 2014,a rapid decline has been observed from 6,278 in 2014 to 4,453 in 2018.

 

This decline was particularly marked among gay and bisexual men (GBM) in whom diagnoses fell by 35% from 3,480 in 2014 to 2,250 in 2018).

 

The steepest fall was observed among GBM who are white, born in the UK, aged 25 to 49 and residing in London.

 

The number of new HIV diagnoses in people who acquired HIV heterosexually has almost halved over the past decade from 3,400 in 2009 to 1,940 in 2018.

In part it puts this down to the UK exceeding its targets within the international “90:90:90” programme:

In 2018, the UK continued to exceed all of the UNAIDS 90:90:90 targets. Of the 103,800 people (CrI 101,600 to 107,800) living with HIV, 93% were diagnosed, 97% of people diagnosed were receiving treatment and 97% of people receiving treatment were virally suppressed.

In a related development, they believe that the rate of infections is falling and has been for some time:

the underlying incidence of new HIV infections, particularly in (gay and bisexual men), has been falling steadily for more than 5 years

While the report is focused on England it notes falls in rates of new diagnoses in Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland – this is a UK wide phenomenon, albeit with different rates of decline perhaps reflecting how London impacts the England figures.

The report would normally have come out on December 1st to coincide with World AIDS Day but the General Election prompted a delay into this year to prevent the findings being used as a political football.

Read the report in full here.