World AIDS Day 2017 – Let’s End It: HIV Transmission
19 December 2017
The theme for World AIDS Day 2017 is 'Let's End It'. End stigma, end HIV transmission and end the isolation experienced by people living with HIV. This post focuses on the gains made in reducing diagnoses, and what is still left to do to end transmission.
New data released by Public Health England show that for the first time since the beginning of the UK epidemic, the number of HIV diagnoses in gay and bisexual men has fallen. In 2016, in the population overall, there was an 18% decline in diagnoses on the previous year. Among gay and bisexual men this was steeper, with a decrease of 21%. In London, diagnoses decreased by 29%.
Increased testing and rapid access to treatment has played a central role in the decline in HIV diagnoses. Because of NAT, everyone in the UK can access free HIV treatment, wherever they are from. Now more than 78% of people living with HIV are doing well on treatment and can't pass the virus on because of their medication.
Although this is encouraging, the number and proportion of diagnoses made at a late stage of infection remain high, particularly among heterosexuals. People diagnosed late remain at high risk of death in the first year of diagnosis and of serious ill-health in succeeding years. They have also spent a longer period unaware of their HIV positive status with possible risks of transmission to sexual partners.
With condom use, expanded HIV testing, prompt treatment and availability of PrEP, HIV transmission, AIDS and HIV-related deaths could be eliminated in the UK. However, this is dependent upon sustained prevention efforts. NAT has proven success, including their recent successful, headline making, challenge of the NHS in court when plans to provide the HIV prevention drug PrEP on the NHS were abandoned. This resulted in a three-year trial for 10,000 most at risk people.
We have the tools we need to build on this and end the growth of the epidemic. Now we must ensure the political will and investment to stop HIV in its tracks. We need to ensure that every child in every school learns what they need to protect themselves. And we need to end the disproportionate impact of HIV on some communities. No one should be at increased risk of HIV because of where they are from or who they have sex with. A renewed effort is needed if we are going to end the harmful impact of HIV in the coming 30 years. For 30 years, NAT's supporters have helped fight HIV. Now, let's end it.
You can help support NAT's vital work and show your support by donating to NAT and adding a virtual red ribbon to your Recon profile.