UK: HIV numbers down again

The incidence of HIV among gay men is falling, according to Public health England.

PHE uses the CD4 counts of men diagnosed with HIV to estimate the incidence of HIV in the community. A man diagnosed with HIV at a CD4 count of 400 is likely to have acquired HIV about four years ago. So each year’s data is used to refine previous year’s estimates.

PHE now say infections in gay and bisexual men have been steadily falling for five years. There were 2,800 infections in 2012, 2,100 infections in 2014 and 1,700 infections in 2016.

The estimated figures for people with undiagnosed HIV have been falling, bringing England close to meeting the United Nations 90-90-90 targets. Estimates are now that 88 percent of people living with HIV have been diagnosed, 96 percent of those diagnosed are taking treatment, and 97 percent of those treated have an undetectable viral load.

An estimated 10,400 people living with HIV have still not been diagnosed.


HIV in UK down again

There has been an 18 per cent drop in the number of people newly diagnosed with HIV, 5,164 last year, the biggest fall on record, according to Public Health England.

New cases of HIV are falling among gay and bisexual men for the first time, thanks partly to use of Prep.

In London new cases among gay and bisexual men fell by 29 per cent.

Zanzibar arrests gays

Twenty people have been arrested in Zanzibar for alleged homosexuality.

“They are implicated in homosexuality. We arrested them and are busy interrogating them. The police cannot turn a blind eye to this practice,” said regional police commander Hassan Ali Nasri on state television. The twelve women and eight men were arrested in a hotel where they were undergoing training from an NGO that works on HIV/AIDS education programmes. In February, Tanzania announced it was stopping many privately run health centres from providing AIDS-related services, which Health Minister Ummy Mwalimu said promoted homosexuality.

Prep has changed behaviours


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Two-thirds of gay and bisexual men said they didn’t use a condom the last time they had anal sex, and more than a quarter considered themselves to have a “risky sex life,” including sex with partners who are HIV-positive, reports Newsweek.

Gay Men Fight Aids surveyed 500 gay and bisexual men, asking them about the risk involved in their sex lives. Twenty-seven percent consider themselves to throw caution to the wind in their sex lives.

The use of PrEP has changed all the rules for gay and bisexual men. HIV-negative men on PrEP, and HIV-positive men who have an undetectable viral load, meaning they cannot pass on the infection due to their HIV treatment, can now have sex without a condom without risk.

PrEP trial announced

UK Health Minister Steve Brine has announced the timetable for a major trial into pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) drug Truvada.

Truvada is a pill taken before sex which has already been shown to reduce the risk of infection with HIV in high risk persons by 86%.

The trial is expected to begin during August 2017, and at least 10,000 people are expected to be enrolled over the next three years of the trial.

Up to £10 million has been made available to fund the three year trial.

Yes, it was a big gay out


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New Zealand Prime Minister Bill English attended Auckland’s Big Gay Out at Coyle Park in Pt Chevalier despite dark clouds threatening to spoil the day. A number of political parties had stalls. As well as the Prime Minister, ACT leader David Seymour and Labour leader Andrew Little attended.

English hoped to be more warmly received that his predecessor John Key was, after he was booed off stage at last year’s event. Auckland mayor Phil Goff posed for photos with those present, joined by councillors Cathy Casey and Richard Hills.

The theme of this years event was ending HIV. Green Party leader James Shaw was also there, and said his party had a “pretty clear track record” of standing with the LGBT community. The Greens were committed to eradicating HIV from New Zealand by 2025. “There’s a tonne of work that still needs to happen for this community, particularly in public health.”

At last some good news about HIV


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New HIV infections in gay men have fallen by nearly a third since 2015 across England.

This welcome reduction may be because gay men are buying medicines online.

A similar fall was reported by four London sexual health clinics in December. The new preliminary results from all sexual health clinics in England for 2016 show the same trend is happening across the country.

Valerie Delpech of Public Health England told the HepHIV conference in Malta: “Provisional data suggests that HIV diagnoses among gay and bisexual men in England has fallen, although it is not possible to confirm this at a national level until all data for 2016 have been received.”

Until last year, gay men accounted for just over half of new HIV infections in the UK.