The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has today published a report on HIV data in 2020 showing that there were 2,630 new diagnoses in 2020 compared to 3,950 in 2019 (-37%).
According to the data, the decline in new HIV diagnoses in England was sharpest in gay and bisexual men, which fell by 41% between 2019 and 2020. The drop in testing was not as pronounced in gay and bisexual men, suggesting that the year-on-year reductions in transmission in this group have continued.
There was also evidence that gay and bisexual men had fewer partners in 2020 and accessing PrEP continued. However, according to UKHSA, the decline in new HIV diagnoses were not seen across all gay and bisexual men, and was steepest in white men, men living in London and younger men.
In 2020, the UNAIDS 95-95-95 targets were met across the UK for the first time with 95% of all people diagnosed, 99% of those in care on treatment and 97% of those on treatment virally suppressed, meaning that 91% of all people living with HIV in care were virally suppressed in England and the UK.
However, the total number of people with diagnosed HIV infection who accessed HIV services in 2020 was lower than in 2019. An estimated 97,740 people were living with HIV in England in 2020 and of these, an estimated 4,660 were unaware of their infection.
Dr Valerie Delpech, Head of HIV Surveillance at UKHSA, said: “The continued decline in HIV diagnoses made in England is encouraging, but last year’s data needs to be considered in the context of a COVID-19 pandemic which saw prolonged and unprecedented public health restrictions, coupled with intense pressure on health services resulting in a decline in HIV testing overall.
“It is now crucial that we continue to ramp up testing and start people on treatment at the earliest possible opportunity. We must address inequalities and find creative ways to achieve a reduction in transmission across all populations. We welcome the HIV Action Plan and expanding of HIV testing to provide greater opportunities for people to be offered an HIV test throughout the NHS.”
To see the full report, CLICK HERE.