Big step up in testing leads to fall in HIV among gay men

Public Health England records first downturn in infections in London, thanks to frequent testing and rapid treatment

New data from Public Health England reveals the first downturn in the epidemic among gay and bisexual men since it began, thanks to a combination of frequent testing of people at high risk of infection and rapid treatment.

In the year beginning October 2015, HIV diagnoses fell by 32% compared with October 2014 to September 2015 among men who have sex with men (MSM) attending five of the biggest London sexual health clinics.

The reasons for the fall are thought to be the big step up in testing, so that gay men at high risk because their partner has HIV would be offered testing every three months, and offering immediate antiretroviral drug treatment to those who test positive, which suppresses the virus.

At the same time, significant numbers of gay men in London have been taking pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) – one of the same drugs that can prevent them becoming infected with the virus. Some have been involved in trials to establish how effective PrEP is, while others have bought the drug online following successful trials in the US.

More from Sarah Boseley at the Guardian

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