UK exceeds 90-90-90 target, and new diagnoses continue to fall


  • Jo Whelan
  • Medical News
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  • The UK has exceeded the 90-90-90 target set by UNAIDS – one of the first countries to do so. 
  • The number of new cases diagnosed fell 17% in 2017

According to new estimates from Public Health England (PHE) for 2017, 92% of people living with HIV in the UK had been diagnosed, 98% of whom were on treatment, and 97% of those on treatment were virally suppressed. Of the estimated 102,000 people living with HIV, 87% had an undetectable viral load, meaning they cannot pass the virus on via sexual transmission.

The number of new cases diagnosed fell 17% from 5280 in 2016 to 4363 in 2017, reflecting a continuation of the downward trend in HIV transmission among gay and bisexual men seen since 2012.

However, 43% (1,879) of new HIV diagnoses were made at a late stage of HIV infection. PHE said there continue to be missed opportunities for early diagnosis, and an estimated 8000 people are still unaware of their infection. It is vital for the public to accept the offer of an HIV test when attending a sexual health clinic or other service, PHE stressed.

Both England and Scotland met the 90-90-90 target. Scotland saw 361 new cases reported in 2017, up from 321 in 2016 but in line with the annual average of 360 over the previous 5 years. It has an estimated 5265 diagnosed cases and a further 500 remain undiagnosed (as of September 2018). Unprotected sex among men who have sex with men remains the main source of transmission, although there has been an increase in the number of new diagnoses among people who inject drugs in the NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde region. Most new infections are a result of transmission from individuals who are unaware of their status. 

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