Further decline in new HIV diagnoses in the UK

New HIV diagnoses have fallen for a third consecutive year, the latest data from Public Health England (PHE) shows. In 2018 a total of 4,484 people were diagnosed with HIV in the UK, a 6% reduction from the 4,761 diagnosed in 2017.

PHE has advised the intensification of combination prevention has been critical to the decline in HIV incidence in gay and bisexual men since 2012. Further information will be released in PHE’s annual report, which will be published in November.

The increase in HIV testing, access and availability to immediate antiretroviral therapy for people diagnosed with HIV, and the scale-up of access to pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) have all played a role in the continued decline of new diagnoses.

The decline in gay and bisexual men

Since 2015 there has been a staggering 39% decline in new HIV diagnoses among gay and bisexual men. Within this group, the steepest declines have been recorded within men who are:

  • White (46% decline since 2015)
  • Born in the UK (46%)
  • Aged 15-24 (47%)
  • Resident in London (50%)

The biggest declines outside of London in gay and bisexual men were seen in:

  • West Midlands (47%)
  • Scotland (43%)
  • East Midlands (40%)

In 2018, two out of every five gay and bisexual men newly diagnosed with HIV lived in London.

The decline via heterosexual contact

During the same time period (2015-2018) the fall in new diagnoses from heterosexual contact was 24%. Within this group the biggest declines have been recorded in people who are:

  • Adults in London (40% decline since 2015)
  • Aged 25-34 (34%)
  • Born in Africa (24%)

Late diagnoses

There are still challenges for the sector despite the continued decline in new HIV diagnoses. In 2018, 43% of all diagnoses were late. PHE has once again repeated its warning that people diagnosed late face a ten-fold increased risk of short-term mortality.

Population groups with particularly high late diagnoses rates include:

  • Heterosexual men (60%)
  • Black African adults (52%)
  • Those aged 50 and older (59%)

People diagnosed late are more likely to experience an AIDS-defining illness at the time of their diagnosis: this was true of 225 people in 2018, a similar number to 2017.

People receiving HIV care in 2018

In 2018 there were 96,142 people receiving HIV care in the UK, of which:

  • 97% were receiving antiretroviral treatment
  • 97% of people on treatment were virally suppressed

The percentage of those receiving treatment was slightly less in 15-24 year olds and in people who inject drugs. Viral suppression was consistent across all population groups.

Trans people

For the second consecutive year PHE has supplied data on HIV diagnoses in trans people. In 2018, 11 trans people were diagnosed with HIV, which is a fall from 16 in the previous year.

The data from PHE now shows that 152 trans people were seen in HIV care in 2018. Of these, 33% were 50 or older and 39% were black, Asian or minority ethnic (BAME). All trans people seen in care were on treatment.

What this means for HIV prevention in England

The hard work to sustain the decline in new HIV diagnoses must continue. The combination prevention approach is working in the UK and efforts to increase awareness and knowledge of correct condom use, HIV testing, PrEP and HIV treatment are necessary to maintain this momentum.

Late diagnoses remain an area that the entire health system needs to take responsibility for, ensuring that all population groups have access to HIV testing. The HIV sector must work with primary and secondary care providers to increase opportunities for people to test outside of traditional sexual health services.

Particular attention needs to be paid to regions outside of London and to those subgroups which are not seeing as large declines in new diagnoses as witnessed in white gay and bisexual men.

National HIV Testing Week presents the next opportunity for the sector to continue to increase HIV testing and reduce late diagnoses in all groups affected by HIV across England. The campaign starts Saturday 16 November 2019. Stay informed with our plans for the campaign by signing up to our newsletter using the form on this page and following us on Twitter.

New local PHE indicators

PHE has announced a number of new HIV indicators on its Fingertips online sexual and reproductive health profiles. In addition to existing measures including HIV testing coverage and new HIV diagnoses rates you can now access local and regional information on:

  • Late diagnoses rates for MSM, heterosexual men, heterosexual women and people who inject drugs
  • Repeat HIV testing in MSM within the past year
  • Prompt ART treatment initiation in people newly diagnosed with HIV

PHE Fingertips webinar

If you would like to know more about PHE’s online health profiles, join us at 1pm on Tuesday 24 September for our webinar looking at getting the most out of PHE’s fingertips tool.

Find out more and register for this event

Official Statistics from PHE

Read HIV annual data tables

Introducing the HIV Prevention England Faith Engagement Strategy

Despite the excellent headway the UK has made to reduce new HIV transmissions, stigma is prevalent and may curtail our ambitions for ending new HIV transmissions by 2030.

  • Stigma is a barrier to people testing and accessing biomedical interventions such as pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP).
  • Stigma affects the wellbeing, health and overall quality of life of people living with HIV.

We have produced a national faith engagement strategy which aims to increase the involvement of faith leaders and communities in challenging HIV-related stigma, supporting the uptake of HIV testing and prevention, and promoting the good health and wellbeing of people living with HIV.

Faith leaders are well-respected role models in their communities; they have the ability to reach people who do not necessarily access health services, and they have a role in supporting efforts to end discrimination against marginalised people.

HIV Prevention England (HPE) will provide opportunities to support faith leaders and communities, including through National HIV Testing Week, providing free resources, information briefings, and sector training events.

Download the strategy document

HIV Prevention England Faith Engagement Strategy [PDF]

Get involved

HPE provides resources and training. If you are a faith leader or work with faith communities:

  • Take advantage of our free resources.
  • Sign-up to our monthly newsletter to keep up-to-date with our latest news and events (complete the form opposite or below).

Forthcoming events

National HIV Testing Week starts Saturday 16 November 2019.

This year, World AIDS Day is on Sunday 1 December 2019.

HIV Prevention England Conference 2020

HIV Prevention England Conference 2020

We are excited to announce that we will be hosting the national HIV prevention conference on Tuesday 18 February 2020 in central London.

It will be free to attend for all those working in HIV prevention in England. Save the date!

Registration for the conference will open in November 2019.

Please note that the abstract submission period will start in September 2019 and we encourage submissions from all our stakeholders.

Social media pack for It Starts With Me, summer 2019

  I'm stopping HIV Our social media pack will help you promote the summer phase of the It Starts With Me campaign on your social media channels. The summer activity launched on Wednesday 19 June 2019.

Theme

Once again we are raising awareness and promoting actions of the various ways to prevent HIV such as condoms, testing, PrEP and treatment using a creative with a summery feel to it, refreshed from last year.

The tagline for the summer activity is ‘I’m stopping HIV.’. Under the tagline, an explanation of how each of the models is stopping HIV is outlined.

The people featured in the campaign images and videos are a mixture of people living with and without HIV.

Hashtag

Our social media hashtag is #ImStoppingHIV

Hashtags are not case sensitive so using #imstoppinghiv would work as well – we’ve just used capitals to make it easier to read what the hashtag is about.

What’s in the pack?

Images: a selection of images for use on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or any another social network.

Links: to information on the various ways of preventing HIV. There are links to interactive tools that:

  • Recommend the best condom to use,
  • assess when someone should get tested,
  • help to choose a type of test based on preference and suitability,
  • help to find local testing services.

Suggested posts: examples of posts for Facebook and Instagram as well as tweets for Twitter.

Videos

Share these YouTube videos via your social media channel:

Download to share via your own channels and use in clinics and waiting rooms:

Additional videos are available via both our YouTube channel (for sharing) and Vimeo (for downloads) channels featuring treatment and testing messaging.

Downloads

Images for Facebook, Instagram and Twitter can be downloaded via Dropbox.

If you’re unable to access Dropbox at your place or work please contact us to request zip files of our digital assets.

Suggested tweets and posts with links to the It Starts With Me online tools can be downloaded here [DOCX]

Calls to action

Learn: we want people to understand the different ways to prevent HIV and why they are important.

Make a choice: we want people to choose how they reduce the chance of getting HIV by:

  • choosing the right fitting condom,
  • finding out if they need to get tested for HIV, where to do it and the different ways they can via the tools on our website,
  • understanding what PrEP is, how it works and how to access it,
  • encouraging people living with HIV to access and adhere to treatment for health benefits for themselves and for the added advantage of not having to worry about passing it on to anyone else.

Educate: share the information from the campaign messages with friends, family and on social media.