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New HIV infections in gay men have dropped by a third in England

The rate of  gay men being diagnosed with HIV has dropped by nearly a third in England since 2015.

One explanation for the sharp drop is that people have been taking PrEP.

The new results have been reported by New Scientist and comes from preliminary figures from all sexual health clinics across England for 2016.

It proves that the downwards trend of new infections is happening across the country.

“Provisional data suggests that HIV diagnoses among gay and bisexual men in England has fallen, although it is not possible to confirm this at a national level until all data for 2016 have been received,” Valerie Delpech of Public Health England told New Scientist.

It is thought that the sharp drop is down to gay men taking pre-exposure prophylaxis medication, which they have imported from abroad.

The drugs aren’t currently available on the NHS and cost around £400 a month.

However, the NHS has warned that importing PrEP medication from abroad could be dangerous.

“Medicines purchased in this way could have the wrong active ingredient, no active ingredient, or an incorrect dosage,” a spokesperson for the UK Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency said.

“Prescription medicines are “prescription only” for good reason.”

That being said, reacting to the new figures, Dr Michael Brady, Medical Director at Terrence Higgins Trust, said: “After years of high rates of HIV diagnoses among gay and bisexual men, it is really exciting to see these indications of such a sharp drop in England.

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“It is early days but this points towards what can be achieved when we utilise all the weapons in our arsenal against HIV transmission. This includes access to condoms, testing, PrEP and, crucially, diagnosing and treating people as early as possible so they can become uninfectious.

“This is extremely positive news for gay and bisexual men, who continue to be one of the groups most affected by HIV. However, it is no time for complacency and we must redouble our efforts to prevent HIV among other at-risk groups as well.

“If we can build on this remarkable progress with continued investment in HIV testing and prevention, including a long-term NHS funded PrEP programme for all those who are at risk, a world without HIV transmission could be within our grasp.”

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