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HIV infections fall by 73% in bi and gay British men

Published on 16/01/20 at 10:47am

Public Health England has released figures that show that HIV rates in bi and gay men have fallen by 73% since 2014 in the UK.

This has largely been attributed to the rise in the use of pre-exposure prophylaxis (Prep). It is a pill that is taken daily, or prior to sex, to prevent HIV infection. If taken consistently it protects cells in the body and disables the virus to stop it multiplying, so it won’t spread even if a condom isn’t used during sex.

A study by the UK Medical Research Council found that there was an 86% fall in new HIV infections among gay men who used Prep compared to those who didn’t. Many in the sexual-health sector say Prep can be 100% effective if taken correctly.

The drug is currently free on the NHS in Scotland for high-risks patients but not in the England. Its impact trial first began in September 2017 and at least 15 people in England have tested HIV positive while waiting for a place on the trial.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said this latest study showed the UK was on track to achieve its goal of ending HIV transmission by 2030. He 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.”

Many critics believe the UK is acting to slowly to help men with the disease, and they feel the data for the success of Prep means it should be fast-tracked for general patients in England.

Conor Kavanagh

 

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