London: Dramatic drop in number of new HIV infections
After the adoption of a new early-intervention treatment program imported from San-Francisco, several major sexual health clinics in London reported an almost 50% fall in the number of new HIV infections.
Dean Street clinic in Soho saw the number of HIV diagnoses fall from 679 in 2015 to 393 last year — while continuing to perform “tens of thousands” of HIV tests. The capital accounts for 43 per cent of new HIV cases in the UK. Public Health England estimates that one in seven men who have sex with men (MSM) in London is living with HIV, compared with one in 25 nationwide.
The new program requires patients to receive ARVT a week after they are diagnosed as HIV-positive, which reduces the risk of spreading the infection. Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) drugs have been approved for use in the UK but aren’t yet available on the NHS. However, more and more people are buying them from online pharmacies. Doctors in London have said they could be on the way to wiping out HIV in the capital.
Dr Alan McOwan, lead clinician at 56 Dean Street clinic, said: “I have been working in sexual health for 20 years. It [the number of new HIV infections] has always gone up or stayed stable. This [drop] is what I have been waiting 20 years to see. Everyone is so excited. It makes people feel it’s achievable and we can finally beat this thing.”