New HIV diagnoses in the UK are now at the lowest level since 2000, data from Public Health England (PHE) reveals.
According to latest data, published on Tuesday, new diagnoses fell nearly a third (28%), from 6,271 in 2015 to 4,484 in 2018.
The steepest decline recorded among gay and bisexual men, down 39 per cent between 2015 and 2018. New diagnoses fell by a quarter (24%) among people who acquired HIV through heterosexual contact.
PHE said the decline is the result of the success of combination HIV prevention over the past decade. The government is planning to achieve zero HIV transmissions in England by 2030.
“This decline in diagnoses is a result of our unwavering commitment to prevention which has led to more people getting tested, and has allowed people with HIV to benefit from effective treatment, stopping the virus from spreading further,” said Public Health Minister Jo Churchill.
In 2018, 94 per cent of people in the UK living with diagnosed HIV and accessing HIV treatment were virally suppressed and cannot pass on HIV.
However, 43 per cent newly diagnosed with HIV in 2018 were at a late stage of infection.
Early diagnosis now prevents HIV deaths in the country. A person diagnosed early now has the same life-expectancy as a person without HIV.
Dr Valerie Delpech, head of HIV surveillance at Public Health England, said: “Getting tested for HIV has never been easier, with free tests available through GP surgeries, local hospitals and sexual health clinics, as well as through a self-sampling service or by using a self-testing kit.”
Many pharmacies are now stocking HIV self-test kits, while GP surgeries, local hospitals and sexual health clinics provide free HIV testing.