Britain underway to eradicate HIV, says official

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STEVE Brine, British Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Public Health and Primary Care, says Britain is well on the way to eradicating HIV “once and for all’’.

He was commenting on Tuesday after figures from Public Health England (PHE) showed new HIV diagnoses across Britain fell in 2017 by 17 per cent.

Annual HIV data published on Tuesday shows new diagnoses decreased from 5,280 cases in 2016 to 4,363 in 2017.

PHE said the figures revealed that new HIV diagnoses have fallen for the second year in a row, bringing new cases down to their lowest level since 2000.

The figure continues a downward trend that started in 2015, with an overall 28 per cent reduction in new HIV diagnoses between 2015 and 2017, said PHE.

PHE added the reduction was largely driven by a decline in new HIV diagnoses among gay and bisexual men, which fell by 17 per cent compared to 2016 and by 31 per cent compared to 2015.

The decrease was due to the high uptake of HIV testing in that group, particularly repeat HIV testing among higher risk men.

Brine said: “HIV is a devastating and life-altering disease. Today’s figures mean we are well on our way to eradicating it once and for all but we have not an ounce of complacency.

“Our commitment to prevention has led to more people getting tested and almost every person with a diagnosis is now in treatment — meaning they are unlikely to pass the virus on to someone else.”

New HIV diagnoses in African and Caribbean heterosexuals have been steadily decreasing over the past 10 years, the figures show.

For the first time, a Britain-wide fall was also seen in new diagnoses in heterosexuals from other ethnicities, with a drop of 20 per cent in 2017 when previously they had remained stable at around 1000 per year.

Prof. Noel Gill from PHE said: “UK prevention efforts are having a significant impact on new HIV diagnoses, and this heralds the lowest number of HIV diagnoses in the UK since 2000.

However, we know that anyone, who has sex with a casual partner without a condom or shares needles may be at risk of infection.”

Public Health England said it is working alongside other government and third sector organisations to control HIV by 2030.

“These new figures are an encouraging sign that this is achievable.’’ (Xinhua/NAN)

– Sept. 4, 2018 @ 16:15 GMT |

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