New HIV transmissions in England have fallen by nearly a third since 2019, with the country on track to meet its target of an 80 per cent reduction by 2025 – and an end to new transmissions by 2030.
Increased testing levels also mean that fewer people are unaware of their HIV status, says an update to the HIV action plan for England from the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC), the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) and NHS England.
As part of the action plan, NHS England is investing £20m in the three years to 2025 to expand opt-out BBV testing in emergency departments in areas with high HIV prevalence, including London, Manchester, Blackpool and Brighton. The expanded testing helped to diagnose 2,000 BBV cases in the first year, says the update, including more than 340 people living with HIV. National HIV testing week in February this year also saw nearly 22,000 testing kits ordered, with at-home kits for self-testing with instant results now available for the first time.
Cases of AIDS have also fallen by more than a fifth since 2019, the document adds. According to the original action plan, however, while rates of new HIV diagnoses were falling among many groups, they remained stable among ‘people who probably acquired HIV through injecting drug use’ – at around 100 per year.
‘It’s positive to see new HIV diagnoses continue to fall, but our work is not done – late HIV diagnoses remain high in England which sadly increases the risk of death,’ said the government’s chief advisor on HIV and chair of the HIV action plan implementation steering group, Professor Kevin Fenton.
‘Improving quality of life for people living with HIV and addressing stigma is a key objective in our HIV action plan and we will continue working with UKHSA and key delivery partners to understand, measure and address stigma in all its forms. We are very thankful to our many partners from government, NHS, local government and communities across the country who are working together to drive progress on the action plan. It is only through collective, focused action on ending HIV transmissions that we will be successful.’
HIV Action Plan: annual update to Parliament at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/hiv-action-plan-annual-update-to-parliament/hiv-action-plan-annual-update-to-parliament