BASHH welcomes new PHE data showing dramatic decrease in new HIV diagnoses across the UK

5th October 2017

The British Association for Sexual Health and HIV (BASHH) welcomes new data published by Public Health England (PHE) which has revealed a dramatic fall in the number of new HIV diagnoses across the UK, particularly among gay and bisexual men in London.

The data shows that there was an 18% decline in new HIV diagnoses across the UK, with 5,164 new diagnoses in 2016 down from 6,286 reported in 2015. The decrease was most apparent in gay and bisexual men, with a 21% drop in new diagnoses seen in this group in 2016. The decline was particularly noticeable in London, which saw new HIV diagnoses decrease by 29% from 1,554 in 2015 to 1,096 in 2016 - the largest declines were seen in areas with the highest testing rates and prompt access to treatment.

Despite the positive news for gay and bisexual men, challenges remain in tacking HIV in the UK, particularly among heterosexual men and women, where the number and proportion of diagnoses made at a late stage of HIV infection remains high. In 2016, 60% of heterosexual men and 47% of heterosexual women were diagnosed at a late stage, compared with 32% of gay and bisexual men.

Commenting on the findings, Dr Elizabeth Carlin, BASHH President said:

The new data is very encouraging and shows how the prioritisation of effective HIV reduction strategies amongst at-risk groups can reduce the onwards transmission of the virus.

While we welcome the reduction of new HIV diagnoses seen in gay and bisexual men, it is clear that more needs to be done to reduce diagnoses among heterosexual men and women. It is important that appropriate levels of funding are available to ensure the availability of increased testing and rapid access to treatment, all of which are key components in reducing HIV.

BASHH believes everyone should know their HIV status and strongly encourages people to get tested.

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