London has seen the first significant reduction in HIV diagnoses, thanks to frequent testing, rapid treatment and a remarkable drug treatment called PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis). The Capital has played a key role in fighting the UK HIV epidemic over the past 30 years. In fact, 46% of people living with HIV in the UK accessed care in London in 2015.
Earlier this year, five London sexual health clinics saw dramatic falls in new HIV infections among gay men – an impressive 40% - compared with 2015 figures. Some medical professionals are putting this down to the wider use of the medication Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP). PrEP is basically a pill that can prevent you from getting HIV.
Currently PrEP is available for free as part of the NHS’s PrEP IMPACT trial, which is being rolled out to 10,000 people. If the trail goes according to plan, it could mean that PrEP would be available through the NHS.
HIV treatment has come a long way in the past decade. Figures now reveal those living with HIV have a near-normal life expectancy due to advances in antiretroviral medication. The likelihood of passing on HIV is linked to how much virus someone has in their blood. HIV medication – usually one or two pills per day – significantly reduces the level of HIV in a person’s bloodstream. Most people on antiretroviral medication achieve an “undetectable viral load” which means they cannot pass the virus on. 97% are undetectable in England.
Undetectable does not mean cured as the virus is still present in the bloodstream., but being undetectable means being non-infectious to other people.
Today is World AIDS Day 2017 and here to discuss the future of HIV and combination prevention in London is Paul Steinberg, Lead Commissioner of the London HIV Prevention Programme and he joins Gerry & Dave