There has been a rapid decline in cases of HIV in the UK, according to new figures.
Data published by Public Health England (PHE) shows HIV transmission is continuing to fall, with the number of people who are unaware they have the virus also decreasing.
In 2014, there were an estimated 2,300 HIV transmissions among gay and bisexual men, dropping to 800 in 2018.
Meanwhile, the number of gay and bisexual men who are living undiagnosed with HIV has also halved since 2014 from an estimated 7,000 in 2014 to 3,600 in 2018.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: “I feel very strongly that we must end HIV transmission.
“HIV has brought untold hurt and suffering to so many so it is encouraging to see transmissions continue to fall across the UK.
“We are well on our way towards our ambition of zero HIV transmissions by 2030 and we should be rightly proud of the incredible progress we have already made.”
The continued decline in the virus has been attributed to the success of preventive measures, including the use of condoms, testing in a wide range of settings, starting antiretroviral therapy (ART) as soon as possible if positive and the availability of Pre-exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) for those who are negative.
Dr Noel Gill, head of sexually transmitted infections and HIV at PHE, said:
“We are well on our way to reaching the goal of eliminating HIV transmission by 2030, with the rapid fall in HIV transmission continuing in 2018 and nearly all of those diagnosed receiving treatment that prevents onward transmission.
“Testing is a key part of the UK‘s success. If you have HIV you can benefit from life-saving treatments that also prevent further transmission of the virus.
“Certain groups of people are at higher HIV risk and are advised to have regular tests, including men and women who have had unprotected sex with new or casual partners from countries where HIV is common, who should test every year, and men who have sex with men.”
Today new stats from @PHE_uk show another fall in HIV diagnoses – but that progress is slowing.
That’s why we’re calling for a redoubling of efforts to ensure we reach our #ZeroHIV goal by 2030.
That includes proper public health funding and PrEP access! pic.twitter.com/epkcFd8jLk
— Terrence Higgins Trust (@THTorguk) January 16, 2020
According to Terrence Higgins Trust (THT) – a British charity that campaigns for and provides services relating to HIV and sexual health – HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus, with ‘immunodeficiency’ referring to the weakening of the immune system by the virus.
While HIV has been passed on between humans for many decades it was only identified in the early 1980s.
The charity adds that HIV can be transmitted through body fluids such as blood, semen, vaginal fluid, anal mucus and breast milk.
If you are concerned that you might have HIV, THT recommends asking your GP for a test.
For more information and advice on HIV you can contact THT Direct by calling 0808 802 1221 or sending an email to email@example.com