NHS 'shouldn't withhold PrEP any longer', says National AIDS Trust
There were 6,151 new HIV diagnoses in 2014, including the highest number on record among gay and bisexual men, (3,360), Public Health England announced today. The number of people living with diagnosed HIV in the UK continues to rise, with 85,489 people seen for HIV care by the end of 2014. The Public Health findings state that "this reflects the longer life expectancy conferred by effective antiretroviral therapy (ART), ongoing HIV transmission and steady numbers of new diagnoses. Consistent with this, the age of people accessing care for HIV continues to increase, with almost one in six now aged over 55." The report states that while the 6,151 new HIV diagnoses represent a slight increase on 2013, "this figure is in line with new diagnoses reported in recent years. The number of men who have sex with men (MSM) newly diagnosed with HIV continued to rise from 2,860 men in 2010 to 3,360 men diagnosed HIV positive in 2014. New diagnoses acquired through heterosexual sex has declined over the same time period (3,440 to 2,490), largely due to a reduction in diagnoses among black African men and women (1,801 in 2010 to 1,044 in 2014)." In the wake of the findings, the National AIDS Trust today issued a statement calling on the NHS to make PrEP available as an HIV prevention option. “We are seeing nine gay men getting an HIV diagnosis every day, which is nine too many. Important prevention work goes on, and without it the HIV rates would be even higher. But the reality is current prevention work is making no dent on these numbers," said Yusef Azad, Director of Strategy at NAT. “We can look at the example of San Francisco for what works, last year the city saw its lowest number of new HIV diagnoses on record. And since 2012, when PrEP was introduced, new diagnoses have dropped by 30 percent. This is what we need to be doing. “PrEP is an essential additional prevention option for people at high HIV risk, and it is a scandal they still can’t access it here in the UK. A significant percentage of those 6,151 people diagnosed last year would be still be HIV negative if they had taken PrEP. “NAT is calling on the NHS to provide PrEP without delay. For as long as the NHS fails to provide PrEP it remains accountable for the unacceptably high number of people getting HIV on its watch.” PrEP involves people taking a daily anti-HIV drug in order to stop getting HIV.While it has been available in the US since 2012, it is still impossible to get it on the NHS in the UK.