HIV infections fall by 40% in Europe’s biggest sexual health clinic

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A leading health clinic in London is expecting a 40% drop in HIV diagnoses for the second year in a row.

56 Dean Street figures project new HIV infections to have fallen by two thirds since 2015.

The clinic now says zero new HIV infections in a year is a realistic possibility.

Experts are putting the dramatic fall in HIV rates down to HIV-prevention drug PrEP, which will be rolled out to 10,000 people from next month.

The Soho clinic diagnosed 136 people with HIV between January and July, putting it on course for a total of 233 by the end of the year.

If achieved, this would be the second successive fall in excess of 40 per cent, down from 679 in 2015 and 393 last year.

Clinicians are now talking seriously about the possibility of defeating HIV.

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Lead clinician Dr Alan McOwan told the Evening Standard: “It’s a very exciting time. Everyone is so motivated to make this work.

“In 2015 we were diagnosing about 60 to 70 people positive a month.

“It dropped dramatically last year, and it’s still dropping. Over the last few months it’s between 15 to 20 people a month.”

The drop is a significant indicator of national trends as Dean Street is the largest sexual health clinic in Europe.

Public Health England figures show that the total number of HIV diagnoses in London has fallen steadily from more than 3,000 in 2006 to 2,603 in 2015.

Men who have sex with men, however, continue to be a high-risk group – accounting for half of all new diagnoses.

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The report comes as thousands of men across the UK will gain access to HIV prevention drug PrEP.

Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) drug Truvada can reduce people’s chances of being infected with HIV by over 90 percent if taken daily.

The pill costs less than £500 per person per year if generic drugs are used.

Over 10,000 men will be offered a trial of the drug as of next month on NHS England.

Experts are hoping this will further decrease the number of people infected by HIV.