19 July 2017
Takudzwa Mukiwa, Health Improvement Specialist at Terrence Higgins Trust, reveals some of the trends in HIV testing and treatment.
Together we are stopping HIV. We’re testing more, starting HIV treatment sooner, using condoms – and taking PrEP and HIV rates are starting to fall. Last year there was a 17% drop in new diagnoses amongst gay and bisexual men across England.
Here is what’s making a difference.
1. We’re testing more
- 300,000 more HIV tests were done in 2015 than 2012.
- 87% of people who have HIV know they have it.
Testing regularly is the best thing you can do for your health. If you have HIV, then the sooner you know the better because early treatment means that HIV won’t damage your health or shorten your life.
While we are testing more, about 13% of people living with HIV in the UK are not aware they have it.
Most people get HIV from someone who doesn’t realise they have it. If more people test and get the medication they need we could dramatically cut the numbers who get HIV in the future.
Testing is free, fast, confidential and simple. You can even do it at home.
2. We’re starting HIV treatment sooner
- More people are getting HIV treatment when they need it.
- 96% of people with diagnosed HIV were on treatment in 2015.
- 94% of people living with HIV in the UK who are on treatment have an undetectable viral load.
The sooner someone with HIV starts treatment, the better it is for their health. Treatment can also reduce the amount of HIV in the body to levels at which HIV cannot be passed on.
3. We’re using condoms and PrEP
Most new infections come from unprotected sex with someone who doesn’t know they have HIV – so we all need to look after ourselves.
Condoms are the best barrier against HIV, other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and unplanned pregnancies.
For some of us who are more exposed to HIV, pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) can provide extra protection against HIV. PrEP is when someone who doesn’t have HIV takes medication to protect themselves from getting it. PrEP does not protect against other STIs or unplanned pregnancy.
For up-to-date information on PrEP, visit the Terrence Higgins Trust website.
We can stop HIV, but it takes each of us to make it happen.