Almost 102,000 people in the UK were estimated to be living with HIV in 2017. Last year was a good year for the UK when it comes the HIV epidemic – with the country having surpassed UNAID’s 90-90-90 targets that were set in 2014. The number of HIV diagnoses are the lowest they have been since 2000; 98% of those diagnosed with HIV are on treatment and 97% of HIV-positive people have undetectable viral loads.
In the years between 2008 and 2017, the number of people receiving HIV treatment increased by 54% – with a total of 93,385 HIV-positive individuals receiving treatment just last year. 97% of HIV-positive individuals on treatment are virally supressed – preventing them from transmitting the virus to others.
Those living with HIV and on effective treatment not only can expect to live a long and healthy life, but also can’t pass the virus on to others due to their HIV viral load being so low. The results from the PARTNER 2 study, published in 2018 found that where the HIV positive partner was on effective treatment, there were zero cases of HIV transmission. Jim Fielder, Living Well Programme Lead at Terrence Higgins Trust
Widespread testing for HIV has played a crucial role in slowing the rate of HIV transmission. Once you know your status you can get treatment which prevents you from spreading the infection to others. This is one of the most effective ways to stop HIV in its tracks. Mike Asher, CEO and Chairman of Better2Know
Despite the progress, around 7,800 of those living with HIV are undiagnosed and remain unaware of their status. In addition to this, late diagnosis is still an issue in the UK as 42% of HIV diagnoses were made in the late stages of infection in 2017.
Mr Fielder agrees:
Getting tested, taking PrEP and being on effective treatment are some of the factors we believe have contributed to the decline in HIV diagnosis in the UK. In 2017, for the first time the UK reached the UNAIDS target of 90:90:90, which is a great achievement.
However, we cannot get complacent until we achieve our goal of ending HIV transmissions in the UK.
Furthermore, there is evidence that awareness and knowledge of HIV amongst the UK population is dropping. With the HIV epidemic being largely concentrated amongst certain key populations, including men who have sex with men, the UK must double efforts to stay in line with UNAIDS 90-90-90 strategy in order to try and end the HIV epidemic by 2030.
In response to ending the HIV epidemic by 2030, Mr Asher continues:
We only have 11 years left to meet this ambitious target, but we know it is possible. Raising awareness, removing barriers to testing and eliminating all stigma are key to winning this race. Also, ensuring HIV testing is available to everyone who wants it will help infected individuals to discover their status and get the treatment they need.
Regular HIV testing enables earlier diagnosis, giving you the greatest benefit from HIV treatment. The earlier you find out your HIV status, the earlier you can receive the help you need to prevent the rapid decline of your health due to an untreated infection.
HIV testing is widely available throughout the UK. You can get tested with your GP, at a private sexual health clinic, or you could collect your sample in the comfort and privacy of your own home with a home testing kit.
Quick, Easy and Confidential Testing with Better2Know’s HIV home test
 Avert: HIV and AIDS in the United Kingdom (UK)
 National AIDS Trust: HIV in the UK Statistics – 2017
 Public Health England: New HIV diagnoses across the UK fell by 17 per cent in 2017
 Terrence Higgins Trust: HIV statistics
 The Guardian: HIV diagnoses fall to their lowest level in the UK since 2000
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