Efforts to prevent the number of people contracting HIV are paying off, as the UK achieves global targets set by the UN earlier this year. With HIV diagnoses falling, it’s great to see the efforts to tackle HIV numbers are working. While any decrease in diagnoses is positive, more can still be done to keep those numbers falling and exceed HIV prevention targets even further.
Meeting HIV diagnoses targets for the first time
From 2016 – 2017, HIV diagnoses fell by 17%, which included a decline amongst gay and bisexual men. The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/Aids (UNAids) set several 90% targets, all of which have been met by the UK:
- 92% of those living with HIV infection in the UK being diagnosed
- 98% diagnosed are receiving treatment
- 97% of those receiving treatment, leaving them unable to pass on the infection
According to the figures, 87% of people who have been diagnosed with HIV are believed to have an ‘undetectable viral load’, which means that they cannot infect others with the disease.
The targets were set by the UN to be met by 2020, but the UK has achieved these targets early, thanks to efforts to raise awareness of HIV and the importance of being tested.
What’s behind the decline?
The decline in HIV diagnoses comes from increased testing for the disease, more people using condoms as contraception, as well as people who are diagnosed with HIV receiving treatment sooner. The wider availability of pre-exposure prophylaxis (Prep) drug, which can disable HIV before it settles in the body is another potential reason behind the falling rates.
HIV Prevention England have been campaigning for HIV prevention for some time, with initiatives such as HIV Testing Week in November and ‘It Starts With Me’ proving effective in getting the message out.
With early treatment, people diagnosed with HIV can live a long and healthy life, with different treatments available to stop people passing on the disease to others. While the figures are positive news for the UK, there is still more that can be done to continue the decline in HIV rates across the rest of the world.
How you can aid HIV prevention
Testing is one of the most important elements of HIV prevention, and if you believe that you could be at risk of contracting the disease, then it’s important that you get tested regularly. Testing is quick and non-invasive and can help those affected to seek treatment early.
Some of the sexual health services in East Berkshire include Time to Test, which can be accessed on an appointment or a drop-in basis, the NHS-run Genitourinary Medical clinics (GUM clinics), and The Garden Clinic, can be found at St Mark’s Hospital, Maidenhead.
Practicing safe sex is important, and there are many contraception options available to you from your local GP and at sexual health clinics. Condoms are the most effective way of preventing STIs, including HIV.
Efforts to boost HIV prevention are continuing and if you need further information, then there are services available to help you with your sexual health concerns. Don’t put off getting tested – it could help you receive an early diagnosis that could save your life.