London health clinic reports 40% drop in HIV diagnoses in the last year
A leading health clinic in London has reported a 40% drop in HIV diagnoses in the last year.
56 Dean Street reported that 373 people have been diagnosed so far in 2016, compared to 626 over the same period in 2015.
Dr Alan McOwan, lead clinician at 56 Dean Street, said: “We were determined that 2016 would be the year that London learnt from San Francisco’s success.
“This drop in new HIV diagnoses could be really significant as the clinic is a major contributor to HIV diagnosis in the UK.”
A similar number of tests were carried out in both years, and the clinic has not seen a drop in any other STI rate.
The facility, based in Soho, diagnoses more cases of HIV than any other clinic in the UK and accounts for one in nine diagnoses in the UK.
The team believe the reduction in cases comes down to their engagement with high risk groups and efforts to reduce the number of people who are unknowingly living with the infection.
Dr McOwan added: “Furthermore the impact could spread across the UK thanks to better HIV awareness, frequent testing, early treatment and use of prevention methods such as PEP and PrEP in key populations.
“It’s encouraging that the number of people we’re diagnosing as HIV positive has dropped so much.
“We will continue to champion the voices of our clients living with HIV so that we can continue to reduce the stigma associated with what is now a long-term condition, rather than what was a terminal diagnosis only 30 years ago.”
The report comes as thousands of men across the UK will gain access to HIV prevention drug PrEP.
Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) drug Truvada can reduce people’s chances of being infected with HIV by over 90 percent if taken daily. The pill costs less than £500 per person per year if generic drugs are used.
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Over 10,000 men will be offered a trial of the drug as early as next year.
Experts are hoping this will further decrease the number of people infected by HIV.
Matthew Hodson, Executive Director of NAM, said, “The data just released by Dean Street is incredibly exciting and may even mark the turning point in the fight to end new HIV infections.
“It takes the ambition that we have seen from the health authorities in San Francisco, and from innovative services like Dean Street’s, to drive down HIV incidence.
“Combination therapy works in fighting HIV. Similarly, a combination approach to HIV prevention, which recognises that people’s needs are varied, is most likely to be successful.
“The impact of earlier diagnosis and access to treatment, ongoing condom use and the recent addition of PrEP to our prevention armoury gives me hope that the goal of ending HIV is in sight.”