For the first time, new cases of HIV have fallen among men who have sex with men, according to Public Health England.
Diagnoses have decreased from 2060 in 2014-15 to 1700 in 2015-16. And in London, there’s been an even steeper drop.
The researchers looked at data from 200 sexual health clinics in the UK.
PHE believe increased testing, fast treatment with HIV drugs and the use a preventative medication called Prep are the reasons behind the trend.
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However, new diagnoses among straight people have not fallen.
Valerie Delpech, head of HIV surveillance for Public Health England says there’s no reason, we can’t bring this number down in future though.
“What we are seeing is the first downturn of the HIV epidemic in gay men. There is absolutely no reason why we cannot scale that up to further reduce new infections in gay men – and also in all people who may be at risk of HIV in the UK, regardless of gender, ethnicity or sexuality.”
The study found that new diagnoses of HIV in gay or bisexual men at five busy London clinics, where Prep is being trialled, had decreased from 880 in 2014-15 to 595 in 2015-16 – a drop of 32%.
This happened even the number of men being tested in these clinics rose by 50% over the same period.
Dr Michael Brady, medical director of Terrence Higgins Trust, said after years of high rates of HIV diagnoses among gay and bisexual men, such a sharp drop in England was “remarkable”.
“This points towards what can be achieved when we utilise all the weapons in our arsenal against HIV transmission,” he said.
PrEp, a drug taken by HIV negative people before sex to reduce the chance of getting HIV is currently only available on the NHS in Scotland. And in Wales and London, the drug is being trialed in some clinics. But Dr Brady says the key to lowering the HIV transmission rate even further is for this medication to be available to all of those at risk, regardless of where they live.