Doctors at some of London’s busiest sexual health clinics, have reported a 40%-50% drop in HIV diagnoses compared with 2015
The number of people diagnosed with HIV at 56 Dean Street so far this year is 373 compared to 626 for the same period in 2015. A comparable number of tests were conducted year on year, and levels of other STIs remained stable.
Dr Alan McOwan, lead clinician at 56 Dean Street, said in a statement:
‘We were determined that 2016 would be the year that London learnt from San Francisco’s success.
‘This drop in new HIV diagnoses could be really significant as the clinic is a major contributor to HIV diagnosis in the UK.
‘Furthermore the impact could spread across the UK thanks to better HIV awareness, frequent testing, early treatment and use of prevention methods such as PEP and PrEP in key populations.
‘It’s encouraging that the number of people we’re diagnosing as HIV positive has dropped so much.
‘We will continue to champion the voices of our clients living with HIV so that we can continue to reduce the stigma associated with what is now a long-term condition, rather than what was a terminal diagnosis only 30 years ago.’
56 Dean Street had been one of the PROUD Study sites which studied the efficacy of Truvada as PrEP in men who have sex with men, it has also been one of the few clinics in the UK to support those who choose to by PrEP privately online or from abroad.
Greg Owen, who runs iwantprepnow.co.uk (IWPN), says that their website has seen a marked increase in visitors this year with the media furore around PrEP. Speaking to beyondpositive he said:
“If NHS England had have just quietly commissioned PrEP we would have seen a small uptake among people who were aware and resourceful. By not doing this and turning the whole situation into quite a highly visible mainstream media circus what they in effect did was provide us with awareness on a national and international level that we could never have dreamed of.”
“As a result of that media presence IWPN have had enquiries from outside of our reach, I currently support a small network of female sex workers using PrEP. Keeping the pressure up is key. We need to encourage clinics across the country to offer PrEP support in a non-judgmental and equitable fashion. This needs to be combined with community support by ways of networks, tailored community events and initiatives led, and orchestrated, by communities for communities and their specific needs and sensitivities.”
Clinicians from Homerton University Hospital London, and the Mortimer Market clinic have also said that they have seen a drop of around 40% – 50% in new diagnoses for the period too.
Dr Mags Portman, GUM Lead at Mortimer Market, said that their clinic had shown a 50% drop in HIV diagnoses from January to September 2016 compared with the same period in 2015. This is despite more tests being performed, and a comparable rate of other STIs for the period.
Dr Portman explained:
“We made a decision to actively support those who are choosing to buy PrEP online early in 2016. This approach has been embraced by all staff from nurses to health advisors to doctors. We ensure that our high risk patients are fully informed about the use of PrEP and have access to safe monitoring alongside good sexual health advice and regular STI screening.
We remain vigilant for a potential rise in STIs which has been reported elsewhere, but so far the rate of bacterial STIs in our clinics are comparable to the same point last year which is very encouraging. This is fantastic news for those at risk of HIV and for the wider health economy.”
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