BASHH welcomes success in meeting UNAIDS 90-90-90 targets but calls for renewed focus on reducing late diagnoses

28th November 2018

The British Association for Sexual Health and HIV (BASHH) welcomes a new report released by Public Health England (PHE) today which shows that the UK is one of the first countries to meet the UNAIDS 90-90-90 targets.

The report Progress towards ending the HIV epidemic in the United Kingdom 2018 includes estimates which suggest that in 2017, 92% of people living with HIV in the UK have been diagnosed, 98% of those diagnosed were on treatment, and 97% of those on treatment were virally suppressed.

An estimated total of 102,000 people were living with HIV in the UK in 2017, with 8% (8,200) unaware of their infection. New HIV diagnoses continued to decline in the UK, falling 17% from 5,280 in 2016 to 4,363 in 2017.

Whilst the report demonstrates that the UK has made considerable progressing in meeting its UNAIDS targets, it also shows that much more needs to be done if HIV is to be eliminated in this country. Of particular concern is the fact that 43% of new HIV diagnoses in 2017 were made at a late stage of infection in the UK, suggesting opportunities for testing and early intervention are being missed.

Commenting on the figures, Dr Olwen Williams, President of the British Association for Sexual Health and HIV and Professor Chloe Orkin, Chair of the British HIV Association (BHIVA) said:

“The UK today has one of the best success rates for people taking HIV treatment anywhere in the world - 98 per cent of those diagnosed are on treatment, and 97 per cent can’t pass HIV on because the level of the virus in their blood is undetectable. However, it is shocking that 43 per cent of those newly diagnosed were diagnosed late, leaving them at risk of serious ill health, and risking further transmission.
There are still an estimated 8,200 people who don’t know their HIV status - a finger prick test could change not only their life but that of their partners. Yet despite this progress HIV stigma remains, which is why we must reach the wider community with these messages, so that HIV knowledge is based on fact not fear.”

A link to the Public Health England Progress towards ending the HIV epidemic in the United Kingdom 2018 report is available online here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/hiv-in-the-united-kingdom

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