HIV/AIDS in the United Kingdom
In 2015, the prevalence of HIV in the United Kingdom was estimated at 101,200 (0.16% of the population), 13% of whom are unaware of their infection. Prevalence is highest in gay/bisexual men in London with an estimated 1 in 7 living with HIV.However, the 2018 statistics showed a tremendous decrease in the number of newly HIV infected gay men during 2015-2017.The number of newly HIV infected gay men decreased by a third in just two years.
An estimated 101,200 people are living with HIV in the UK. Of those, 69% are men and 31% were women. Just under half of those living with HIV are gay or bisexual men. 1 in 7 gay or bisexual men in London are living with HIV, compared to 1 in 25 in the rest of the UK and less than 1 in 500 for the general population.
6095 people were newly diagnosed during 2015, a trend which has remained relatively constant since 2010. An estimated 39% of diagnoses were late (likely to have been living with the virus for over three years). This has improved since 2006 when 56% of people were diagnosed late. Late diagnosis is associated with a 10-fold increase in the chance of death during the first year after diagnosis. Over half of new diagnoses (3,320) were among gay or bisexual men. There has been a decrease in diagnoses amongst heterosexual black African men and women, from 73% in 2006 to 47% in 2015, largely due to trends in migration from high prevalence countries.
Treatment and prognosis
HIV treatment is available free of charge in the UK and as a result 96% of diagnosed are receiving treatment and of those 94% have a suppressed viral load making them very unlikely to pass on the infection. In 2015, less than 1% of people living with a diagnosed HIV infection in the UK died (cause of death is uncertain and may not be HIV-related). All-cause mortality for ages 15–59 in people living with HIV was 5.7 per 1000 compared to 1.7 for the UK population as a whole. People newly diagnosed with HIV today can expect to have a normal life expectancy if they are diagnosed on time and on effective treatment.
In 2013, one in four adults seen for HIV care were 50 years of age or older. This is partly due to improvements to life expectancy for people living with HIV as well as increasing numbers of people acquiring HIV later in life.
Pre-exposure prophylaxis ("PrEP") using a drug which can prevent HIV infection, is available to high risk individuals as part of a three-year trial on the NHS, after a legal battle in the High Court. Use of PrEP in London, both as part of a trial and from private purchases, was partially credited in a drop in diagnoses among men who have sex with men, after a five-year plateau in diagnoses.
Sexual health specialist Mags Portman was credited in making PrEP more accessible to gay and bisexual men in the UK. In October 2018, the Terrence Higgins Trust established the Mags Portman PrEP Access Fund to provide PrEP to those in England and Northern Ireland who cannot afford it.
1987: The British Government launched "AIDS: Don't Die of Ignorance", a major public information campaign. A leaflet about AIDS was delivered to every household in the UK, which warned that it is impossible to tell who is infected with the virus.
2013, April: HIV Prevention England started a two-year campaign funded by the Department of Health communicating messages about HIV testing and condoms to Africans and MSM.
2015, April: First home testing kits become available, after being legalised in April 2014.
2016: Results of PARTNER Study show that a person living with HIV, who is on treatment and whose virus is undetectable cannot pass the virus on to anyone else. The 'U=U' campaign and Terrence Higgins Trust's 'Can't Pass It On'campaigns followed shortly after. The PARTNER Study followed other research and studies, such as the Swiss Statement, which provided similar evidence of HIV not being able to be passed on under these stated circumstances.
2017, 3 August: NHS announced trial of PrEP for 10,000 people over three years.
2019, 1 January: NHS announced to increase IMPACT trial size to 26,000.
- National AIDS Trust
- Terrence Higgins Trust
- Ensuring Positive Futures
- Tainted blood scandal (United Kingdom)
- National AIDS Trust v NHS Service Commissioning Board
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