HIV: England on course to fully eradicate the virus by 2030

According to a new study, England could very well eliminate transmission of HIV and end the AIDS epidemic in the next eight years.

Data collected by the Medical Research Council and Public Health England (PHE) has found that England is on track to diagnosing 95% of all people living with HIV by 2025. This percentage would highly increase the chances of eradicating the virus by the year 2030.

PrEP's contribution

According to reports, people diagnosed with HIV between the ages of 15 to 74 in the country increased from 83,500 in 2013 to 92,800 in 2019. Although the increase seems considerable, this only means that more people are getting tested and fewer people are living with the virus unknowingly, making it less likely for transmission to occur.

Further, 98% of those living with the virus are currently receiving treatment and 97% of these people are no longer able to transmit the virus due to low viral loads. Dr. Valerie Delpech, head of the HIV team at PHE, explained that:

This research is good news and shows that combination prevention, and in particular HIV testing and early treatment, is working in England.

She specified that the increasing accessibility and use of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) among those at higher risk of contracting HIV (men who have sex with other men) has positively impacted England’s response to end transmission of the virus.

Heterosexuals are also at risk

PrEP is an antiviral oral medication taken by HIV-negative people before and after sex that reduces the risk of getting the virus by 99%. However, despite efforts in combatting HIV in the country, Dr. Delpech believes that the biggest task remains in educating heterosexuals who do not consider themselves concerned by the risk of catching the virus. She said:

Further reducing the number of people who remain undiagnosed with HIV infection will become very challenging in the coming years. This is particularly the case for heterosexuals who may not consider themselves at risk of HIV.

And added:

The priority must be to ensure that all sexual health clinic attendees are offered and encouraged to accept a HIV test, regardless of ethnicity, rather than the 73 per cent that currently do test.
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