40% Drop in HIV Cases at London Clinic Could Hold the Answer to HIV Prevention

One of the leading sexual health clinics in London has witnessed a huge drop of new HIV cases since 2015. This drop has seen the clinic now target zero new HIV diagnoses.

The London clinic has witnessed a 40% drop of new HIV cases reported at the clinic. The clinic puts rigorous testing of people at high risk of HIV infection as well as the introduction of HIV PrEP, a HIV-prevention drug as the main causes of the welcome drop.

The clinic, which is based in Soho, reported 136 HIV cases from January to July this year. They expect that this number will stand at 233 by the end of the year. This will mark a 40% drop from 393 in 2016 and 679 in 2015.

Hope for Defeating HIV

From the numbers witnessed at the clinic, clinicians feel confident that we could be on the way to eradicate new HIV infections completely.

The clinic is the largest of its kind in Europe and if its numbers are anything to go by, if the HIV prevention methods used by the clinic are replicated elsewhere, this could potentially mark a similar trend for reducing HIV infections across the continent.

Lead clinician Dr Alan McOwan said that they now have the tools to end HIV adding that these are very exciting times at the clinic. The entire staff is said to be highly motivated to keep the HIV prevention program going.

According to figures available at the Public Health England, London’s HIV diagnoses have been reducing steadily from over 3,000 in 2006 to 2,603 in 2015.

PrEP to be Made Available on NHS

NHS England will now spend £10 million to roll out HIV PrEP drug to 10,000 people from September. This has been hailed as the largest ever trial of its kind.

The PrEP trial is set to begin after the High Court ruled in favour of the National AIDS Trust (NAT) after NHS had declined to fund the trial.

The trial will will be made available to the 10,000 people via sexual health clinics. The trial will target men, women, transgenders and people with HIV positive partners who have seen to change in their viral load despite using HIV medication (ARVs).

HIV PrEP has been proven to reduce HIV infection rates thus, saving thousands of lives of people at risk of infection. NAT now wants to work with stakeholders including NHS England, the sexual health sector and local authorities, to make sure that a huge range of eligible people who are at high risk of HIV are able to access the trial.

NAT promised to monitor the uptake of PrEP continuously in order to fully understand how to increase access to the life saving drug.

What is PrEP?

There’s a confusion between HIV PEP and PrEP. PrEP is a drug that should be taken by HIV negative people from highly risky populations such as sex workers, men having sex with men (MSM) and those who inject drugs. The drug is taken before sex to reduce the risk of contracting the virus.

PEP, on the other hand, is taken after a risky sexual act where the patient suspects there’s risk of HIV infection. Rape victims, health care givers who have come into contact with blood of an HIV+ patient as well as people who have unprotected sex with someone who have HIV virus should be put on PEP as soon as possible.

PrEP is currently available under the trademark Truvada. The pill contains tenofovir and emtricitabine. The drug is well received and has no major side effects. For now you can only buy it privately online as it’s not available on the NHS.