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PrEP contributes to 40% drop in HIV diagnoses at UK’s busiest sexual health clinic

Friday, December 23, 2016

Yesterday, the 56 Dean Street clinic in Soho, London, announced a 40% drop in HIV diagnoses in 2016. 

This was despite carrying out the same number of tests as the previous year, and seeing a patient population with a similar risk profile and diagnosis rates for other STIs.

Dean Street is the UK’s largest sexual health clinic and accounts for 1 in 9 HIV diagnoses in the UK. Doctors at the clinic attribute decrease in HIV diagnoses down to a combination of:

  • PrEP (when HIV-negative people take antiretroviral treatment to prevent HIV acquisition)
  • early treatment initiation (allowing recently diagnosed people achieve a supressed viral load and therefore become uninfectious).

PrEP is not yet available on the NHS, but following reports of its success in preventing HIV, people have been accessing it online and in private clinics.

In 2016, NAT successfully challenged an NHS England decision to drop plans for a national roll-out of PrEP.  Earlier this month, a 3-year clinical trial reaching 10,000 people was announced by NHS England and Public Health England.

Deborah Gold, Chief Executive of NAT, says:

“The dramatic drop in new HIV cases at Dean St shows the power and potential of PrEP to stop HIV in its tracks.  It also shows that the people who could benefit the most from PrEP are aware of their HIV risk and are taking active steps to prevent transmission – even if it means accessing and paying for the medication themselves. 

In April 2017, PrEP will finally become available on the NHS to those who need it, this could be a defining moment in the our 30-year battle against HIV.”

Notes to editor

  1. Data from the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, which runs Dean Street, said that in the period between January and November 2016, the clinic diagnosed 373 new HIV infections. In the same period in 2015, they diagnosed 626 – a fall of 40.4%. Full data is reported here:
  2. On 10 November, The Court of Appeal ruled in favour of the NAT in a judgment that confirmed that NHS England can legally fund the HIV prevention drug PrEP.  This followed an earlier judicial review judgment in the High Court.
  3. On 4 December, NHS England announced funding for a major new clinical trial using PrEP as a means of preventing new HIV infections amongst high risk groups.

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