Statement: UKHSA data shows impact of COVID on HIV progress
National AIDS Trust responds to new UKHSA HIV data which shows that;
- There has been no improvement in the number of heterosexual men and heterosexual and bisexual women offered a HIV test.
- 489,727 women were tested in 2021 compared to 628,607 in 2019.
- 248,355 heterosexual men were tested in 2021 compared to 419,501 in 2019.
- 38% of eligible attendees in specialist sexual health services were not offered a test in 2020 and 2021 (16% in 2019)
- Testing has recovered to pre-pandemic levels for gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men (GBMSM). The number tested in England in 2021 (178,466) exceeded that observed in 2019 (156,631). However, there were still 266,746 (20%) fewer people tested overall in 2021 than in 2019 pre-pandemic.
- More people are being diagnosed late, from 44% (724 of 1,643) in 2020 to 46% (786 of 1,715) in 2021. The data suggests this may be due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
- In specialist sexual health services, only one third of heterosexual and bisexual women who may have needed PrEP were assessed for it (33%), and just under half of heterosexual men who may have needed PrEP were offered an assessment for it (49.4%). This is much lower than the 81% of gay and bisexual men who have sex with men who had their need identified.
Deborah Gold, Chief Executive of National AIDS Trust, said: “This data is concerning, and shows the government isn’t doing enough to end HIV. Women and people from Black African and other minority ethnic communities are not getting the access to HIV tests and the HIV prevention drug, PrEP that they deserve. COVID-19 has deepened pre-pandemic inequalities, and without action the Government will miss its target of ending HIV by 2030.
“This is worsened as sexual health services are now experiencing another shock to the system in monkeypox, for which they are woefully under-resourced. To get us on track to end HIV in this country once and for all, the government must invest in sexual health services, which are on the frontlines of monkeypox and HIV prevention, expand HIV testing in hospitals across the country, and improve access to the HIV prevention drug, PrEP.”