News & Media > HIV diagnoses continue to fall in response to increased testing, PrEP and effective treatment

HIV diagnoses continue to fall in response to increased testing, PrEP and effective treatment

Thursday 16 January 2020

Comment from the British HIV Association (BHIVA) on HIV in the United Kingdom: Towards Zero HIV transmissions by 2030, Public Health England (PHE) 2019

The continuing fall in new HIV diagnoses shown in new data published by Public Health England (PHE, 16.01.2020) underlines progress made through the combination of effective treatment, increased testing and growing use of Pre exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP), according to the British HIV Association (BHIVA).

BHIVA Chair Dr Laura Waters comments:

"In 2018, 93% of people living with HIV in the UK were diagnosed and almost all of them – 97% - were on effective antiretroviral medication, which prevents them passing HIV on to sexual partners. There are also fewer and fewer people with undiagnosed HIV, leading to fewer new transmissions. Combination prevention, including PrEP, condoms and regular testing, also contributes to the decline in new diagnoses, evidenced by the particularly large fall (35% from 2014 to 2018) amongst gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men. However, we must ensure these successes are replicated amongst all people at risk of HIV."

Unaddressed inequalities remain. While the number of gay and bisexual men (GBM) living with an undiagnosed HIV infection in the United Kingdom has halved since 2014, this progress is not matched in other populations, particularly black and non- black Africans. Progress is also London centric: there are twice as many people with undiagnosed HIV infection in England living outside London - 4,500 compared to 2,100 – which is true both for GBM and heterosexual men and women. Late diagnosis, which significantly increases the risk of death in the first 12 months after diagnosis, remains far too high at 43%.


Quality of life remains a challenge

New data revealed in a survey of almost 4,500 people (about 1 in 20 of all those living with HIV in England and Wales) was published simultaneously. Positive Voices: The National Survey of People Living with HIV, Public Health England, findings from 2017, shows while most people with HIV now have a normal life expectancy, more than half are living with at least one other long-term condition, and one in three have two or more. Mental health is also a key concern, with around half (49%) reporting symptoms of depression and anxiety, much higher than in the general population (30%).

Comments Dr Laura Waters:

"With the high rates of physical and mental health issues highlighted by the Positive Voices survey, closer co-ordination with primary care is crucial for the HIV population in order to live well as they grow older. While it is good news that almost all surveyed (98%) were registered with a GP and most (94%) have told their GP that they are HIV positive, levels of satisfaction with their GP was lower compared to their HIV clinic (6.9/10 compared to 9.3/10). We must support people with HIV to access the most appropriate care and ensure that the HIV community is involved in the future delivery of healthcare to remove remaining barriers, including stigma, in the broader health system."


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