HIV cases in the UK plummet by 71% following PrEP introduction

New cases of HIV in the United Kingdom have dropped by a whopping 71% since 2012 according to the latest figures. Researchers credit PrEP treatment for the breakthrough.

The introduction of Pre-exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) and rapid HIV testing have resulted in a significant downturn in the number of new cases of HIV.

Among gay and bisexual men, transmissions of HIV have dropped from 2,800 in 2012 to 800 in 2018 according to a report published by the BBC.

PrEP treatment is an approach where people who do not have the virus, but are at a higher risk of contracting it, take a once a day pill that gives them a high level of protection. Scientist have ascertained that treatment is almost 100% effective, with only a few cases of people becoming HIV positive while sticking to the treatment regime.

Combined with medical improvements that see people who do have the virus maintaining undetectable viral loads. Medication now makes the virus so dormant in people’s cells that they are unable to pass it on to other people.

The third factor making a major difference is the introduction of rapid testing, and home testing approaches, which allow many more people to be regularly checked.

The result mean the United Kingdom is on track to meet to 90-90-90 targets. The goal is that by this year 90% of people who have the virus will know their status, 90% of those people will be on treatment, and 90% of those on treatment will have an undetectable viral load.

Of the estimated 103,800 people living with HIV in the UK in 2018, 93% have been diagnosed with the virus.

Of these, 97% are receiving treatment. and of these, 97% are, as a result, undetectable, meaning they cannot transmit the virus.

The success of the roll out of PrEP treatment has lead to calls for the medication to be made more widely available. Currently people in Britain can only access the medication with government subsidies if they sign up to be part of trial.

Australian completed trials several years ago and the medication has now been added to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS).

Scientist have now begun working on the next generation of treatments which will hopefully see daily pills replaced by monthly injections.  Following the achievement of the 2020 90-90-90 targets the next goal is to have no new transmissions of the virus in developed countries by 2030.

OIP Staff, 20-01-20 report updated to include link to BBC report.